Allentown Morning Call

March 12, 2019

View PA Rep Scott Conklin's Bill: HB 919:

"Amending the act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14),..."

Please contact your PA Legislators as soon as possible & let them know that you support Scott Conklin's Bill to to create two separate high school championship systems, one for public and one for private schools.

Find your Legislators by clicking here!

Let them know that they should also support Conklin's new Bill, "HB 919"!

The Bill still needs Co-Sponsors and public support is critical! Please contact your Legislators directly and communicate with them!


Allentown Morning Call

March 12, 2019

by Scott Conklin

Since 2010, the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association has been debating the question as to whether private, parochial and charter schools (non-boundary 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 non-boundary 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.

On July 18, 2018, the PIAA board of directors approved two major changes to its bylaws, which were intended to resolve competitive balance issues. These changes, which were recommendations from the PIAA’s Competition Committee, included a formula for placing schools in classes for postseason play and an amendment to the transfer rule.

While I commend the board of directors and the Competition Committee’s efforts, I question the reasoning behind both changes and how they resolve competitive balance issues. If a nonboundary school is continually bumped up a class for postseason success, eventually all public 6A teams will be punished by facing all of the nonboundary schools in state playoffs. I can’t see how there is any competitive balance in that change.

Further the transfer rule change does not benefit either boundary or nonboundary schools. If a blue-chip athlete transfers in their junior year to a school, then they sit out the playoffs for that year. However, they are still permitted to participate in the playoffs their senior year. It seems to me that these changes do not get to the root of the problem.

On July 24, 2018, 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-feet, 8-inch, 250-pound centers with multiple offers from high-profile Division I basketball programs.

While non-boundary 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, the PIAA board of directors stated that separation of playoffs was contrary to the legislative intent of Act 219 of 1972, the law which 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 in 1972. 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. The Philadelphia school district did not request PIAA membership until 2003. The Philadelphia Catholic League did not join until 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.