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PIAA Addresses competition imbalance at recent meeting

Written by: on Thursday, May 24th, 2018. Follow Staff on Twitter.


Transfers, non boundary, boundary, unfairness and recruiting are just a few of the “hot” terms in high school sports right now. The topic usually, in years past, reaches a boiling point at the end of football and basketball season but then the topic fades away. But this time, the movement has grown stronger, with surveys put out in the WPIAL and District 10 to get a gauge on how schools feel about the topics. As you can imagine, the results of each survey were heavily in favor of some sort of change being necessary.

In a recent survey of WPIAL schools 86 percent said the would be in favor of separate playoffs. Another survey in District 10 returned very similar results.  Some of the changes suggested don’t directly address the public outcry of “separate boundary and non boundary playoffs” but they may help calm the waters so to say.  At the center of the issue is a law enacted in 1972 and amended in 1974 that basically forced the (PIAA) take in the private schools. PIAA Executive Director Bob Lombardi is on record several times stating “If State Legislature passes a law we will follow it.”

The PIAA has been listening it appears. While they took no action to define what a boundary school is in comparison to a non-boundary school, the competition committee did make a few recommendations that may lead to a much “quieter” atmosphere in the world of high school athletics.

So to address the situation, the PIAA competition committee has looked at several different means to “level the playing field”. First they looked at the transfer rules. Currently if a player transfers and the principals of each school sign off it’s usually the end of the process. If one of the schools decides they think it’s for athletic intent then they could request a hearing. Two recent situations have brought the situation to the front of the room, one involving a female basketball player who transferred from Virginia to Neumann-Goretti just before the playoffs. Another involved a football player who transferred from his school in New Jersey to Conwell-Egan just before the PIAA quarterfinal round.

To address that issue, the PIAA recently moved up the start date of a new rule. The 21-day-sit-out rule for in-season transfers wasn’t supposed to take effect until July, but it now it’s already been enacted.

The second change is the 50 percent rule. If you are available to participate in 50 percent of a season at one school, you won’t be eligible to play during that season at another school should you transfer.

They’ve now expanded on that rule. They recommended (and passed on a first reading basis) to provide that a student who has competed in a sport in the 9th grade or thereafter, and subsequently transfers to another school, and is declared eligible at the new school, is ineligible for participation in the postseason for the following sport post-season.

In another move, the competition committee also wants the PIAA to look at a success factor based on the Indiana Tournament Success Factor, ( something many in that state have said helped to suppress the talk of transfers and imbalance/unfairness. That system awards playoff points to a school based on criteria. If a team accumulates 6 points they may move up 1 class.

There was also talk of adding a 7th super class  to offset the argument of big schools in the 6th classification do not adhere to the formula because there is no classification for them to move.

Below is the summation of what came out of yesterdays PIAA meeting via


District 10 SPECIAL NEWSLETTER May 2018

Newsletter Editor: Bill Magee
Newsletter Publisher: Peter Iacino

PIAA Competition Committee and Board of Directors –
May 2018 Meetings
PIAA Competition Committee Actions:

1. While there are discussions, surveys and board resolutions floating around, there are no PIAA definitions of what Non-boundary and Boundary schools are. The competition committee took no action on an agenda item forwarded by the District 10 Chairman to create for discussion purposes definitions for those two terms.

2. Recommended to the Board of Directors (and passed on a first reading basis) to provide that a student who has competed in a sport in the 9th grade or thereafter, and subsequently transfers to another school, and is declared eligible at the new school, is ineligible for participation in the postseason for the following sport post-season.

3. Recommended to the Board of Directors (and passed on a first reading basis) a provision that a District Committee may waive the above period of ineligibility upon demonstration by the student that the transfer was necessitated by exceptional and unusual circumstances. For purposes of this provision, transfers to address academic needs and desires, or for developmental, spiritual, and/or other social reason, are not considered exceptional and compelling circumstances.

4. Recommended to the Board of Directors (and passed on a first reading basis) a success formula to classify schools for the next cycle. See below for the proposal.

5. Recommended to the Board of Directors (and passed on a first reading basis) to fine schools $100.00 for each sport where eligibility lists are not submitted on time and further provide that the school will be ineligible for post season play if the fine is not paid.

Other PIAA Board of Director Actions:

1. Passed on a final reading basis Religious Headwear Guidelines

2. Noted that over 14,000 coaches have completed the mandated coaches education program.

3. Noted that the PIAA portal to submit eligibility requests will be active July 1st. All submissions for determination of eligibility must be completed through the PIAA portal.

4. Passed on a final reading basis an amendment to Article III Attendance to clarify the school of eligibility for students participating in a Multi-Public School District Academic arrangement to allow for a student to be eligible at one or the other school with principal approval and District Committee finding that the choice is not for an athletic consideration.

5. Passed on a final reading basis the following changes to ARTICLE XVI SEASON AND OUT-OF SEASON RULES AND REGULATIONS

Section 2. Rules and Regulations.

OPEN GYM: An event/activity whereby a PIAA-member school makes available the use of its
gymnasium and/or other athletic facilities to all students enrolled in their school.

E. Open Gyms – This activity as defined in the glossary is to encourage participation in a sport. Open gyms are limited to two hours per day and three days per calendar week outside the defined sport season during the school year. Weight training and conditioning activities are not considered open gyms and may be held daily as long as they are voluntary and not compulsory.
Out of season competitions are prohibited 10 days prior to the start of each sports season by any student enrolled at a PIAA member school. Recommendation to delete Open Gym from Article XII, ATHLETIC RELATIONS, Section 2., Practices, Inter-Schools Practices, Scrimmages, and Contests Limited to Six Days Per Calendar Week During Preseason and Regular Season

6. Passed the following: ABSENCE OR WITHDRAWAL OF OFFICIAL AT CONTEST: Where a PIAA registered official engaged to officiate a Contest does not timely arrive a the Contest site, is unwilling to officiate, or is unable to complete a Contest that is underway, the participating schools and/or contest manager shall proceed as follows:

A. An effort should be made to find a replacement PIAA official to officiate the contest.

B. If (1) no PIAA official willing to officiate the contest can be located within a reasonable time, (2) the contest was to have multiple officials, and (3) one or more officials remain available to officiate, the schools, with the consent of the remaining official(s) may agree to proceed with the contest. This should only occur if the schools and officials agree that they can do so without posing an increased risk of injury to the participants. This provision will only apply when the number of required officials falls below the number listed in the corresponding NFHS rulebook.

C. If no PIAA official is available to officiate the contest, or the parties cannot agree to continue under B above, the contest may not proceed. Reasonable efforts should be made to reschedule the contest. If the contest was already underway before the loss of an official, the rescheduled contest will resume at the point of suspension, subject to the rules of the contest.

Classification of Schools (from page 1)

The purpose of classifying schools is to allow for schools to compete within certain parameters against similar size schools. This classification process has involved using enrollment numbers to establish a school s classification that has stood the test of time for decades. However, there is general sentiment that enrollment numbers do not clearly indicate equal competition factors and there should be additional items that are needed to be considered to keep athletic competition in balance. With the changes in legislation and the advancement of technology that has affected types of schools that students may choose to attend, there appears to be two types of schools. Traditional schools, where students attend by virtue of their geographic residence, and schools of choice, where students choose to attend based upon their educational needs, religion, gender, legacy or technology. These schools also include academies, charters and preparatory schools. Based upon these changes in the types of schools that students may attend, there is consideration that needs to be given to competitive balance and the development of a formula to address this process of classifying schools.

CLASSIFICATION FORMULA: A school s competition classification will be determined by sport and gender using the following formula. All three items will be combined to determine the competition classification.
Enrollment classification + Success factor + Athletic transfers = Competition Classification

#1 – Enrollment classification

All schools will be classified by enrollment of grades 9-10-11 in the oddnumbered calendar years by sport and by gender.

#2 – Success formula

All schools will have their success in post-regular season rated by the following scale.

1 point for participation in a district championship contest.
2 points for participation in a quarter-final inter-district championship contest.
3 points for participation in a semi-final inter-district contest.
4 points for points for participation in a final inter-district contest.

A. In the previous two year cycle schools will receive points based upon their highest finish in postseason. If a school achieves 6 points or greater, the school may move up 1 classification for the next classification cycle in that sport and gender based upon the number of transfers the school received under the transfer formula.

B. If a school that participates in a higher enrollment classification and obtains 3, 4, or 5 points cumulative in the two year cycle, the school will remain in that higher enrollment classification for the next two year cycle.

#3 – Transfers
Schools may receive transfer students without affecting their classification if the student enters their new school during the traditional natural break (junior high to senior high). Any sport specific transfer after the natural break transfer will subject the student to a possible post-season ban for one year or limited to participation at the sub-varsity level only based upon the district committee or regional panel determination of eligibility.

A. In the previous two year classification cycle, if schools receive transfer students by sport and gender that are 1 less than half of the starting squad size of that sport, the school will move up 1 classification.
Ex. 2 transfers in BB = up 1 class. 5 transfers in FB = up 1 class.

B. If a school accumulates 6 points or greater in the previous cycle and does not receive transfer students that is equal to or exceeds the number above, they will remain in their enrollment classification for the next two year cycle.

C. Further, a school that does not obtain 3, 4, or 5 points in a cycle, but has transfer students 1 more than half of the starting squad size in that sport will remain in that classification cycle for the next two year cycle.

Possible Formation of 7th Classification – Super Class – FB and BB
The formation of this 7th class is to offset the argument of big schools in the 6th classification do not adhere to the formula because there is no classification for them to move. With this 7th class, schools will qualify for the 7th classification based upon two criteria; competition classification formula or their choice to opt up by the school. A minimum number of schools must be determined (suggested 8=FB; 16=BB) as well as the use of a power rating to determine the maximum number of qualifiers.

A school may appeal its upgrade in competition classification by providing written documentation to the Executive Staff to verify that changes in their classification will not provide them with a competitive advantage over like sized schools. The school s rationale to not have to move up in classification must be included in the appeal documents.

The appeal will be held upon the paperwork of all school related documents (certificates of eligibility; transcripts; attendance records; CIPPE forms; previous two year cycle team schedules and results). Documentation must be provided to the Executive Staff. If the Executive Staff makes a positive determination to accept the appeal, the appeal will end. If the Executive Staff determine this appeal is denied, the decision may be appealed to the Board of Directors.

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One Response to “PIAA Addresses competition imbalance at recent meeting”

  1. PastorZack says:

    How can PIAA not have a definition of “boundary” and “non-boundary” schools? Can they really be that blind?
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