PIAA adopts new policy on transfers

By Michael Boytim

mboytim@altoonamirror.com

The PIAA passed a new rule Wednesday in State College that is its answer to the complaints across the state about increased transfers for perceived athletic benefit.

Athletes who transfer from one school to another any time following their ninth-grade year will be eligible to play in the regular season but not in their first postseason at the new school. The new policy, which passed in a 26-2 vote, will go into effect on Aug. 6.

“Let’s say our daughter transferred to Penn Cambria from another school on Aug. 7,” District 6 Chairman William Marshall said. “If she played three sports, she could play in the regular season but would be ineligible for each postseason in that first year.”

If the athlete transfers in November following playing a fall sport, the athlete would be ineligible for any winter or spring postseasons that season at their new school and ineligible for the fall postseason the next year before finally being allowed to play that next winter.

Transfers while students are still in ninth grade or below will not face the postseason ban.

Marshall clarified that a ninth grader is considered so until the school’s last official day of school. He said at his school, Penn Cambria, a ninth-grade student is automatically promoted to 10th grade following that day.

There will be exceptions to the rule, but Marshall said the new transfer rule is much more black and white.

“Transfers for academic, developmental, spiritual and or social reasons will face the postseason ban,” Marshall said. “They must show the transfer was necessitated by exception and unusual circumstances beyond reasonable control of the student’s family.”

So what exactly does that mean?

“The last statement is something like a change in residence, necessitated by change of employment of parent, which may qualify as an exception,” Marshall said. “There will be more specific criteria once the policy is actually posted.”

Another change is that while the District 6 committee will still hear local transfer requests, if there’s any uncertainty on possible exceptions to the postseason ban, it will be sent to a PIAA committee for a final decision.

Transfers from public schools to private schools have fueled a heated debate about whether or not to hold separate playoffs in football and boys and girls basketball recently.

“To me, this doesn’t have anything to do with public or private,” Marshall said. “We had a lot of transfer hearings in District 6 where it was thought to be athletic intent, but it was hard to show that. Obviously now when parents are made aware of this, they will have to weigh in on how important postseason play is to them. People will give great consideration over if they really want to transfer.”

Superintendents from more than 115 schools will meet on Tuesday in State College to discuss that debate and try to come up with resolutions to the issues. When asked about the potential new transfer rule last week, Central Cambria Superintendent Jason Moore implied it wouldn’t help the situation even if it passed.

“It’s a Band-Aid on a bullet wound,” said Moore, one of the organizers of Tuesday’s meeting, in an interview with the Mirror last week. “The PIAA and (Executive Director) Dr. (Robert) Lombardi are just doing something for the sake of doing something.”

The PIAA also approved a plan to install a competition formula system for basketball and football that won’t go into place until the 2020-21 season at the earliest. Under that system, teams could be forced to move up in classification if they win too many championships or bring in too many transfers over a certain period of time.

Another rule that was changed likely was done so because of what happened in a District 6 game this spring. State College was forced to forfeit its baseball playoff game against McDowell despite winning, 3-2, on the field, when McDowell (the home team, thus the official book) calculated that State College’s pitcher had thrown 101 pitches and then faced another batter. State College’s coaches had him at 99 pitches.

“Now for all district and state playoff games, someone has to be assigned to track the pitch count,” Marshall said. “It doesn’t have to be a PIAA official, but it has to be someone assigned by our district committee to count. The playoff pitch-count maximum has also been increased to 105 pitches.”

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