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PIAA moves one step closer to six classifications for football playoffs

JOBY FAWCETT
YorkDispatch

The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association is closer to increasing the number of classifications from four to six for high school football.

Also, it is entertaining the idea of expansion in other sports.

At a joint meeting of the Strategic Planning Committee and the Football Steering Committee on Wednesday, a recommendation was approved by an 18-9 vote to restructure the classification system that has been in place since the start of the state playoffs in 1988.

Both committees agreed the best approach is an equal division of schools for six classifications. That eliminated another proposal that offered six classifications with the sixth being a "Super Class" for schools with male enrollments greater than 700.

The recommendation will be made to the PIAA Board of Directors at its Oct. 7 meeting. There, the proposal will be on its third and final reading. The Board of Directors can either approve the recommendation, or table it for further discussion.

Schools will also be submitting enrollment numbers for classification for the next two-year cycle in late October.

"I think this proves that good ideas will be and should be considered for discussion and that an open dialogue and a lot of hard work is very important," PIAA Executive Director Robert Lombardi said. "It's important that this association also listen to the wishes of its membership."

Proposals for change were the brainstorm of Bob Tonkin, a representative of District 9, with three being brought to the attention for review for the first time in December.

Several meetings have been held leading up to this point, and other proposals were weeded out through the voting process.

"I think all of this has been thoroughly vetted," Lombardi said.

A collateral change in policy was also addressed for football. In order to tackle the issue of shortening the season, districts can either agree to play a nine-game schedule with two preseason scrimmages or a 10-game schedule with one preseason scrimmage.

The Board of Directors can act on this modification on a first-reading basis, or suspend protocol and accept so to expedite the process so the membership can move forward with scheduling for the next two-year cycle.

Also, with change on the horizon for football, the next step will be examining the possibility of expansion in basketball, baseball and softball.

"This is something that the committees are going to look at very carefully," Lombardi said.