PIAA Playoff Equity Summit organizers want separate football, basketball playoffs in 2019

July 16, 2018

Mars Area is reflected in their runner-up trophy after their game against Neumann-Goretti during the PIAA Class AAA boys basketball championship on Friday, March 18, 2016 at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pa. Neumann-Goretti won 99-66.

The PIAA “can and must” create a postseason system that separates traditional public schools from private, parochial and charter schools, says a group of public school administrators scheduled to meet July 24 in State College.

The statewide group wants separate football and basketball playoffs for the 2019-20 school year, according to an agenda for the PIAA Playoff Equity Summit.

The public school administrators crafted two scenarios to make that happen:

Scenario 1: “Creation of a seventh classification of private and charter ‘schools of choice’ who would face each other in PIAA playoff competition. This classification could be divided into two subdivisions (small, large) with the ‘competition formula’ being used to dictate subdivision status for a school’s two-year cycle.”

Scenario 2: “Revert to the previous four classifications for traditional public schools and use classifications five and six for private and charter ‘schools of choice.’”

Regular-season schedules would remain unchanged with a mix of all school types.

However, PIAA executive director Bob Lombardi has consistently called any plan that splits schools by type a “non-starter.”

The public school summit is the latest tactic in a debate that has worn many names: public vs. private, boundary vs. non-boundary, or traditional public vs. schools of choice. Whatever the name, most public school administrators argue that their sports teams face an unfair disadvantage.

As a result, summit organizers invited public school superintendents, high school principals and athletic directors from across the state to gather for four hours next week at the Ramada Hotel & Convention Center to create a unified plan for moving forward.

That plan ultimately could include creating a separate organization for public schools that rivals the PIAA.

According to an email sent to school administrators to advertise the summit, attendees will discuss “the current inequity in PIAA playoffs, boundary/non-boundary schools, the possibility and logistics of creating separate state championships for boundary and non-boundary schools, the leadership of the PIAA, and the possible formation of a separate entity to provide a fair, equitable playing field for all students and schools in Pennsylvania if appropriate action is not taken by either the PIAA or through legislation.”

The group will meet from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

The summit agenda includes the draft of a letter intended for the PIAA and state legislators. Organizers hope school administrators will sign their names to the letter.

Among the “beliefs” listed on the letter was the desire for separate football and basketball playoffs in 2019-20.

The group disagrees with the PIAA’s stance that separating boundary and non-boundary schools is exclusively a legislative issue, because the public school administrators do not support “excluding any private or charter schools from PIAA playoff competition.”

The letter also states that the new PIAA competitive-balance formula “falls short in addressing the issue.”

The PIAA board will meet Tuesday in State College. The board could approve the new formula, which moves successful teams to a higher classification if that team also received a certain number of transfers. The board also could finalize a new rule that would force transfers to sit out the postseason.

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