Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Committee to Conduct Hearing on Tournaments

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Committee to Conduct Hearing on Tournaments

Article excerpt

A legislative committee that oversees the PIAA will have a public hearing next week to discuss the idea of separate championships for public and private schools, as well as other issues in Pennsylvania high school athletics.

The Pennsylvania Athletic Oversight Committee has scheduled the hearing for Monday in Harrisburg, with members of the PIAA present. The oversight committee has three House members and three senators.

The issue of public vs. private/Catholic/charter schools has been a hot topic in high school sports for a number of years. But the complaints have become more numerous in the past few years and the critics have become louder recently because of the dominance of some private/Catholic/charter schools in football and basketball.

Over the past three seasons, 69 percent of the PIAA boys and girls basketball champions have been teams from "non-boundary" schools. Critics believe private and charter schools have an unfair advantage because they do not have geographical boundaries to draw students. Public schools can only take students from a geographical district.

Many school superintendents, especially in Western Pennsylvania, have made it known in the past few months that they would like to see separate postseason tournaments for public schools and the others. In the WPIAL, 108 superintendents answered a survey and about 9 out of 10 said they wanted separate postseason tournaments.

Bob Lombardi, director of the PIAA, said state Rep. Gene DiGirolamo, R-Bucks County called for the hearing. DiGirolamo is the chairman of the oversight committee. Lombardi said the reason for the hearing is to "discuss inquiries the general assembly has received about public and private schools, the changes in the transfer rule, and the competition classification formula."

Will anything come from the hearing? That's highly questionable. The oversight committee had a similar hearing last June.

Lombardi has said the PIAA is against having separate tournaments for public and private schools because of a 1972 law that made the PIAA accept Catholic and private schools. Lombardi has said the PIAA won't have separate tournaments unless legislators call for the idea. …

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