PIAA keeps looking at increased classifications for football


A move to a new football format in Pennsylvania could take another step forward.

When the PIAA Board of Directors meet Wednesday beginning at 9 a.m., one of the items that will be examined will be the continuing efforts to increase the number of classifications in football from four to six.

"I am hoping that Strategic Planning takes a long look at it and there is a good dialogue," PIAA Executive Director Robert Lombardi said. "I hope it is very investigative, because there are a lot items to carefully look through."

In May, the Board of Directors passed on a first-read basis all eight of the proposals for consideration to provide more time for the committee to examine all of the intricacies of each, and to iron out any possible sticking points. Adding two classifications has gained support from the Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association.

Pennsylvania has used a four-class format since the football playoffs were introduced in 1988.

It appears increasing that number and closing the enrollment gap between schools at the top and bottom of a classification has become the driving force behind the support for change.

The first proposal on the table is keeping the status quo with four classifications.

Seven other proposals, outlined and configured mostly through the effort of Bob Tonkin, a District 9 representative.

There are proposals that increase the number of classifications from four to six with all schools included, another that goes from four to six with one Super Class for schools with an enrollment greater than 700 and another with one Super Class for schools with an enrollment of 800 or greater.

In addition, there are proposals for a four-class format and the three six-class formats using a 10 percent factor of students enrolled outside the school for calculating a school's enrollment.

A school's enrollment is compiled a year in advance of each two-year cycle and includes students who are home schooled, cyber schooled or charter schooled.

Those students can bump a school's enrollment number high enough that it changes its classification. For example, in the last two-year cycle, Dunmore moved from Class A to Class AA based upon its cyber-school students.

"My interest is to follow the wishes of the membership," Lombardi said. "The time has come to take a long look at expansion. But, lets do it right and not have a knee-jerk reaction or decision. We have had some other sports that don't want expansion.

"It seems like change is inevitable for football. The football coaches have seen their neighboring states with similar number of competing schools have many more classifications and state champions and that has intensified this dialogue for change."