PIAA bill from ’72 discussed
By Michael Boytim
The organizers of the PIAA Playoff Equity Summit met with PIAA representatives, the Pennsylvania Athletic Oversight Committee and a charter school representative Wednesday at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.
At the Equity Summit, it was decided a legal explanation of the 1972 legislation about private schools being allowed into the PIAA was needed.
First, PIAA Director of Legal Affairs Michael Solomon offered his view.
“It is the legislative intent, by our understanding, that the championships should be combined,” Solomon said. “We feel it would be incumbent on legislature to condone if the legislative intent was otherwise.”
Attorney Larry Kelly, representing the public school superintendents, offered his understanding by first saying it is important to look into the history of the 1972 House Bill 2104 and the revisions that followed.
“In the first session when it was read, it said private schools that participate with public schools and compete in the regular season with public schools shall be allowed to compete, if otherwise qualified, in the postseason,” Kelly said. “The second reading eliminated the statement ‘that participate with public schools and compete in the regular season with public schools’ and added in all capital letters that they would play in the same postseason tournament on June 5, 1972.
“But the final passage and final revision (Act 19) says only that private schools shall be permitted, if otherwise qualified, to be members of the PIAA and eliminated language of participating with public schools in the postseason.”
As the meeting drew to a close, Oversight Committee chairman Gene DiGirolamo, gave his opinion. DiGirolamo has been a member of the committee since it was formed in 2005.
“I’ve always been under the impression that to separate the championships, a bill would have to be introduced in the legislature, and that would have to be voted on and signed by the governor,” DiGirolamo said. “That’s always been my impression. (Kelly) made some good points, but I can’t imagine the legislature would want private schools to be part of the PIAA but not allowed to play in championships with public schools.
“I’d like to get a ruling, I’m not sure from where, on what the actual intent was.”
The meeting closed with Mike Bariski, the athletic director at Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School, saying the Charter School Coalition would not fight against separations if opportunity still exists to compete in playoffs and win championships.