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PIAA upholds ruling that comes down hard on Pa. wrestling program for rules violations

The (Johnstown) Tribune-Democrat (TNS)

The PIAA Board of Directors' appeal hearing on Wednesday upheld a District 6 Committee ruling made last month against Bishop McCort Catholic High School.

Wednesday's virtual meeting, requested by Bishop McCort, included discussions of previous testimony from the Nov. 3-4 virtual hearing that resulted in Crimson Crushers wrestling coach Bill Bassett being suspended, the wrestling team facing a postseason ban and all other sports teams at Bishop McCort being placed on probation.

The District 6 executive committee held the initial hearing due to alleged violations of the PIAA's rules regarding transfers and recruiting.

"They affirmed the ruling of District 6," said Tom Smith, Bishop McCort Catholic principal and chief administrative officer.

"Coach Bassett is suspended for two years," Smith said.

He said the school faces a two-year suspension from postseason competition for wrestling, and three years of probation for all sports.

Bishop McCort Catholic wrestlers will face a postseason ban for the 2021-22 and 2022-23 seasons.

Last month, District 6 initially announced a one-year suspension for Bassett and a postseason ban in wrestling for up to three years.

William Marshall, the Penn Cambria superintendent who is the chairman of the District 6 Committee, said the district works with all member schools regarding rules and by-laws.

"The District 6 Committee sometimes has to make tough decisions," Marshall said. "We're committed to upholding the by-laws and constitution of the PIAA for all its member schools. We will continue to stay committed to that cause and partner with all of our member schools to try to assure that they're all adhering to those by-laws and the constitution."

Marshall said the PIAA traditionally releases a decision letter explaining the results of the hearing. He was not sure when that would occur.

Smith said Bishop McCort will explore other options.

"I'm disappointed in the outcome," Smith said. "For us, there will be a next step. I believe that is the (Pennsylvania) Courts of Common Pleas.

"We appreciate the appeals process. Unfortunately, it did not go our way. Moving through this process we're going to take it to a higher court.

"I'm going to continue to fight for our students and for the families of Bishop McCort," Smith said.