PIAA needs fixed, not replaced

The PIAA needs fixed, not replaced.

Possibly 100 or more public schools will be represented this week at a meeting in State College with the PIAA’s policy toward non-boundary (private and charter) schools as the primary item on the agenda.

Some Juniata Valley schools will be there, some will not.

We hope that the meeting proves effective at forcing continued change at the state’s scholastic sports oversight agency, but we can’t support the proposal that schools leave the PIAA and form a new organization.

A new organization, like the PIAA, would be subject to state law and state oversight. Along with that, it would mean a diluted (more so than six classifications) playoff system, and questionable claims of state supremacy.

The PIAA has its problems — we’ve talked about some of them in this space in the past. Its unequal treatment of the two types of schools clearly gives non-boundary schools (those that draw from a wide area that crosses school district lines) an advantage, most notably in the postseason.

A study the PIAA released last week shows that what it calls “Schools of Choice” have won a disproportionate 64 percent of the boys basketball titles, 59 percent of girls basketball crowns and 50 percent of football championships in the past 10 years, not coincidentally since Philadelphia became part of the PIAA — a city where students can choose their school, but the city-wide population is not considered in classification.

The PIAA began to address that in earnest by voting at its quarterly meeting Wednesday to implement a postseason ban for many athletes who transfer between schools after ninth grade, and adding a competition formula when classifying schools for football and basketball beginning in 2020, when the next competition cycle begins.

The latter could benefit large, isolated schools like Mifflin County — which has struggled in the state’s largest classification.

As we’ve also pointed out, the PIAA is not necessarily able to fix the problems that have created this situation without a green light from the legislature.

The answer is so simple that we can’t fathom why it hasn’t been done: Harrisburg needs to tell Mechanicsburg that regulating sports to eliminate inequities of this type is allowed under the law — or just tweak the law to make it clear.

And the PIAA — by which we mean the board — needs to stop worrying about who might sue it for doing the right thing, and just do it while trying to overcome its own selfish interests along the way.

The agency deserves credit for at least starting to address the matter by cracking down on certain forms of transfers that at least appear to be in violation of the rules.

The schools taking their ball and going home is no solution.

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