Boytim: PIAA tries to find solutions without divisions

Commentary

If one thing is clear from Monday’s “Hearing on Public, Private Sports” held in Harrisburg by the Pennsylvania Athletic Oversight Committee and members of the PIAA, it’s that the wish of many public-school coaches in our area isn’t happening any time soon.

The topic of separate state playoffs between those public schools and private schools was not on the table, but what was discussed seems to be at least an effort in fixing what brought so many of our local public-school coaches to this point.

When the Mirror reached out to more than 100 public football, boys basketball and girls basketball coaches in the region during a recent anonymous poll, their frustration was clear, but it wasn’t always aimed solely at private schools.

The biggest issue is the ability for players to transfer schools for athletic reasons rather easily, but as pointed out by many of the coaches who responded to our poll, it isn’t happening at just private schools.

The fact that more kids are transferring from public schools to other public schools is something both public and private school coaches actually agreed on.

Whether you want to believe it’s recruiting, or, as some coaches suggested, the kids play together in AAU over the summer and somehow convince their parents that getting to play together in high school will be the best thing for their futures, it seems to be happening.

The PIAA has at least noticed.

A rule that could be approved later this year would mean any player transferring schools that is older than ninth grade would have to sit out for the first year of their new team’s postseason after transferring. It seems unlikely that any star high school athlete would give up a year of playing in the postseason of the sport at which they excel just to get into what they view as a better situation.

Another potential “fix” in the works is the possibility of a formula that could force schools to move up in classification in a certain sport if they experience too much sustained success or bring in too many transfers.

Whether either of these will help is certainly up for debate.

Obviously, AAU starts before ninth grade, so does that mean the transfer process will just start happening earlier?

As far as the classification issue, depending on the district, moving up sometimes isn’t a punishment. Some local teams in the past have moved up several classifications (you can move as far up as you want, just not down) for a two-year period to have a better shot at a district title than if the team would have played in the classification their enrollment suggested.

Though both ideas have flaws, the PIAA is trying, but it’s trying to appease the public schools without losing the private schools, something that’s certainly tricky.

The politicians that gathered in Harrisburg on Monday claimed there will be several more get togethers with the PIAA. Knowing that, combined with the growing frustration with schools, both public and private, working around the system, the belief here is that the PIAA will really put some effort into enforcing these potential new rules and get back to policing the old ones.

Michael Boytim can be reached at mboytim@altoonamirror.com or 946-7521

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