ShareThis Page
Scott Conklin: PIAA needs separate playoff systems | TribLIVE.com
News

Scott Conklin: PIAA needs separate playoff systems

874908_web1_FootballStock

Since 2010, the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) has been debating the question as to whether private, parochial and charter schools (nonboundary schools) have a competitive advantage over public schools (boundary schools). Since fair competition is something we all want, I believe our public school student-athletes should have the same opportunities for statewide exposure, college recruitment and scholarships as those enrolled in parochial, private and charter schools.

Also, when it comes to contact sports, parents should know their children are safe rather than worrying about the nonboundary schools that are fielding teams with college-level size and athleticism.

That is why I’m introducing legislation to give the PIAA the authority to establish separate playoff systems. My goal is not to harm the Catholic Church, private schools, religious-affiliated schools or charter schools; it’s to level the playing field.

On July 24, more than 150 public school administrators met in State College to discuss both reforms and withdrawing from the PIAA. Why, you ask? Because boundary schools are of the opinion that nonboundary schools have a major advantage because they can offer student-athletes academic scholarships.

While it may not be recruiting per se, oftentimes these students happen to be five-star athletes in major sports such as football or basketball. Some happen to be 6-foot-8, 250-pound centers with multiple offers from high-profile Division I basketball programs. While nonboundary school athletes are getting full scholarships to top-tier colleges due to the exposure and success of their schools’ athletic programs, boundary school athletes are left with few opportunities.

On Dec. 5, 2018, the PIAA board of directors stated that separation of playoffs was contrary to the legislative intent of Act 219 of 1972, the law that opened up membership to the PIAA to nonpublic schools. To assume that the legislative intent of a nearly 47-year-old law applies to today’s issue is both shortsighted and irresponsible.

A lot has changed since the adoption of Act 219. For example, in 1972, Catholic schools only accepted students from the parishes that the schools represented. It wasn’t until Catholic churches and their associated schools started to close in the late 1990s and early 2000s that the once parish-restricted schools were no longer limited to enrolling students from the geographic locations that were home to their parishes.

In addition, charter schools did not exist until the passage of the Charter School Law of 1997. The Philadelphia Public School League and Philadelphia Catholic School League did not participate in the PIAA in 1972. In fact, the School District of Philadelphia did not request membership into the into the PIAA until 2003. The Philadelphia Catholic League joined in 2008.

To be fair, the sponsors of Act 219 could not have anticipated this many changes to the education landscape over 36 years, and the PIAA should not use an antiquated law to justify inaction.

Members of the Pennsylvania Athletic Oversight Committee and the PIAA board have stated that the PIAA does not possess the authority to establish separate playoffs without legislative action. My proposal simply gives the PIAA that power, without restrictions, should the General Assembly choose to act.

The ball is in our court.

Scott Conklin, a Democrat, represents the 77th District in Centre County.

Categories: Opinion
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.