By Matthew DeGeorge
The atmosphere within Executive Room 12 at the Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center was convivial if deliberative Wednesday afternoon. The tenor of debates circulating through the PIAA Executive Board struck a start contrast to the rhetoric espoused outside the organization’s highest rungs.
The board struck an optimistic tone as it passed several measures, including a postseason ban for late-high school transfers and the implementation of a competition formula starting in 2020-21, aimed at easing what Executive Director Dr. Robert Lombardi called the “perceived imbalance” between public and private schools. The view of another meeting to take place next week in State College, the “PIAA Playoff Equity Summit” that will bring together representatives from more than 100 public schools to thrash out a unified position to approach competitive imbalance, was decidedly dim.
“My comments are the same as at the oversight committee (in Harrisburg in June),” Lombardi said. “We believe it’s contrary to the law. And if the legislation wants to change, we will follow the legislation and do whatever it says. And the board has discussed it upside-down, inside-out, many different ways and proposals and ideas. But they’re not going to violate the intent of the law which is we’re going to take private schools as full members of PIAA.”
Legislators that have spoken to PAPrepLive.com, including State Sen. Scott Martin and State Rep. Robert Matzie, express the same sentiment. The PIAA incorporated private schools into a previously all-public body via a 1972 act of the General Assembly. Any board action to split the association or to conduct separate tournaments for public and private schools would, according to prevailing logic, violate the letter and/or spirit of that law and fail to withstand the subsequent and inevitable court challenges.