Hearing concerns, PIAA forms Competition Committee

(Scranton) Times-Tribune (TNS)
  • The PIAA has formed a Competition Committee.
  • The group will take a look at competitive balance in the state.
  • The committee will look at tweaks to make PIAA championships more "balanced and fair."

The winter sports season wrapped up over the weekend at the state basketball championships.

Now, the governing body for sports is addressing concerns it hears throughout the year regarding competition.

Archbishop Wood reacts after winning the PIAA Class 5-A state championship on Saturday. Private schools won nine of the 12 state basketball championships.

The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association, at its annual meeting during the state finals, formed a Competition Committee “to review all aspects of competition, including classifications, transfers, school definitions and competitive balance.”

“This came from our (PIAA) president Jim Zack and we already held a meeting Thursday morning to take a look at everything regarding competitive balance,” PIAA Executive Director Dr. Robert Lombardi said. “We hear the concerns. We are going to look at the way we classify programs, the transfer rule, the success theory and rating they use in California and Indiana. We want to see if we can make some tweaks to make our championships the most balanced and fair.”

Public-vs.-private debate: Each year at this time, the PIAA is peppered with complaints about the public vs. private or parochial school theory.

Once again, several private, parochial and or charter schools have reaped success in team sports, which many at the public school level find unfair because of the lack of school boundaries for athletes.

In 1972, the Pennsylvania State Legislature passed a law including parochial and private schools into the PIAA. Before that the state hosted a PIAA championship and a Pennsylvania Catholic Interscholastic Athletic Association championship.

Those schools are classified based on enrollment and seen as equals to public schools despite drawing its enrollment from several, if not many, school districts in and out of the state.

In the fall, Bishop Guilfoyle (1A), Cathedral Prep (4A), Archbishop Wood (5A) and St. Joseph’s Prep (6A) won four of the six state football championships, and all are private or parochial schools.

After Saturday’s finals in basketball at the Giant Center in Hershey, nine champions in boys' and girls' basketball represented private or parochial schools. Public schools, meanwhile, won just three basketball crowns.

“Unless the state legislature is going to change that ruling, and I don’t see that happening, that is not going to change,” Dr. Lombardi said. “If something changes, we would follow the directive.”

Recruiting: Recruiting always becomes a hot-botton topic, as well. The creation of super teams with players moving from team to team and often winning appeals for eligibility. The PIAA bylaws prohibit students from transferring schools for athletic purposes.

“We are going to take a look at everything,” Lombardi said. “We had a very good first meeting and we will have another in May.”