PIAA overturns WPIAL decision, rules DeGregorio brothers eligible

October 6, 2018

Hampton guard Isaac DeGregorio drives against Latrobe’s Bryce Butler Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017, at Hampton.

The PIAA overturned a WPIAL decision Thursday and ruled North Catholic transfers Isaac and Owen DeGregorio eligible to play basketball for their father, highlighting a rules-interpretation disconnect between the two boards.

The PIAA considered the WPIAL’s interpretation too strict.

“You’re trying to write general rules for 350,000 specific cases every year,” PIAA executive director Bob Lombardi said. “That’s probably not possible, so you have to look at the spirit and intent of them.”

The DeGregorios presented their case at an appeal hearing Thursday at the PIAA office in Mechanicsburg. The hearing panel voted 5-0 to reverse the WPIAL’s decision.

“The appeal board asked ... was the transfer materially motivated by athletics? That answer was no,” Lombardi said. “They felt it was to be with dad and keep the family together.”

PIAA rules say a transfer may be considered athletically motivated if “the student follows the student’s coach or other student-athletes to another school.” For that reason, Hampton’s administration didn’t endorse the transfer paperwork when the DeGregorios switched schools this summer.

Dave DeGregorio was an assistant last season for Joe Lafko at Hampton.

The rule doesn’t specifically list an exception for when that coach is also the student’s father, so the WPIAL board declared the brothers ineligible in a 6-5 vote on Sept. 19.

“I think it was Mr. Lombardi who said it best: ‘There are rules, and then it’s people’s job to interpret those rules,’” Dave DeGregorio said. “It would be impossible to cover every scenario within the writing of the rules. I think his expectation is that the schools have to use their common sense in reading the rules.”

The PIAA board will discuss the rule at its next meeting, Lombardi said, after Hampton asked Thursday for added clarity in the language. But Lombardi didn’t believe an across-the-board approach for all coaches and their children should be considered.

“I think you have to take them on a case by case basis and consider the surrounding scenario,” Lombardi said. “In this case, (the hearing panel) didn’t think there was any athletically motivated intent to just go for basketball. It was to be with dad.”

Isaac, a junior, was an all-section guard and 14-point scorer for Hampton last season. Owen is a sophomore.

“The boys are very happy,” said DeGregorio, while traveling home from Mechanicsburg. “Of course they have their headphones on and they’re doing whatever they do on their devices, and asking where we’re going to eat. But I know they’re both very happy.”

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