PIAA warns ADs to start following rules concerning boys playing on girls' sports teams

MIKE WHITE
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (TNS)
Bob Lombardi

The boss of the PIAA addressed a number of Pennsylvania high school athletic directors Tuesday, and part of his message was for the ADs to start abiding by the rules of boys playing on girls' sports teams.

The Pennsylvania State Athletic Directors Association was holding a conference in Hershey and PIAA executive director Bob Lombardi spoke to the group about some issues, including boys playing on girls' sports teams.

Lombardi's talk with the ADs came only a few weeks after a Post-Gazette story revealed some teams in the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League, also known as District 7, were breaking PIAA by-laws by permitting boys to play on girls' sports team in lacrosse and field hockey. Greensburg Salem had three boys on its girls' lacrosse team this season and Woodland Hills has been using boys on its field hockey team for the past four years.

Seven years ago, the PIAA, reacting to a commonwealth court judge's decision, enacted by-laws that made it close to impossible for boys to play on girls' high school sports teams.

"We shared part of the education of what can be done as far as how that mixed gender rule is to be applied," Lombardi said Wednesday after a PIAA board of directors meeting. "We shared with them the proper procedure to follow."

Lombardi has acknowledged that Greensburg Salem and Woodland Hills broke PIAA by-laws.

"District 7 (WPIAL) is going to have more discussion on it, as well," Lombardi said. "Schools need to follow the by-law. The by-law is clear. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it is what it is. We worked very hard to get that (court decision) to take care of our female athletes. It needs to be enforced properly."

PIAA baseball-softball update: The PIAA plans to hold the baseball and softball championships at Penn State June 17-18. However, Penn State officials have told the PIAA that maximum occupancy for a game is still at 190, and that includes players, coaches and officials, as well as fans. That could change when Gov. Tom Wolf lifts mitigation orders in the state May 31.

"I did express to the representatives of Penn State that if it stays so low, we might have to explore other options," said Melissa Mertz, associate executive director of the PIAA. "They are hopeful they will be able to get that changed and so are we."

Basketball schedule change? The PIAA board of directors passed, on a first reading basis, a rather significant change to the boys and girls basketball tournament schedules, beginning in the 2021-22 season.

Usually, there is a week between district championships and the start of the PIAA tournament. But under a new proposal, the first round of the PIAA tournament would start only a few days following district championships, like the WPIAL.

Also, the PIAA semifinals would be on a Friday and Saturday, and the state championships wouldn't be played until the following Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Usually, the semifinals are played only a few days before the title games.

The new schedule must pass two more readings.