Three bills intended to create separate playoffs for public and private schools in Pennsylvania High School sports were introduced by the state’s General Assembly during its last session, which ended in June.
Reforming high school sports in Pennsylvania seems like it ought to be simple.
The bills are now in limbo at least until the legislature returns next month. None of them are on the legislative docket for the beginning of the new legislative session, Tuesday, Sept. 17 for the House and Monday, Sept. 24 for the Senate.
“We’re hoping to get started on this as soon as possible once the new session begins,’’ Rep. Scott Conklin, a Centre County Democrat who introduced one of the bills, said Tuesday. “I’m sure there will be hearings in this case.’’
Movement of all bills is controlled by each body’s majority leader, Lancaster County Republican Bryan Cutler in the House and Jake Corman, a Republican from Centre County, in the Senate. Bills are usually referred to a committee for hearings, during which they can be modified and elements from multiple bills can be combined. Upon committee approval, the majority leader puts the bill to a floor vote.
HARRISBURG - Proposed legislation that would create separate public and private state tourna…
The three bills:
Senate Bill 573, introduced April 22 by Sen. Gene Yaw (R, Williamsport). Key text: “No student who attends a boundary school may compete in a school athletic playoffs or championship that is sponsored sanctioned or approved by the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association in which a student from a non-boundary school competes.’’
What differs it from the others: Its wording would apparently prohibit boundary and non-boundary athletes from competing against each other for state championships even in individual sports such as wrestling, track and field and cross country.
House Bill 1600, introduced June 17 by Rep. Aaron Bernstine (R, Ellwood City). Key text: “A separate playoff system shall be established by the Association for athletics for public schools and non-public schools, except that the (state) championship shall be between the public school champion and the non-public school champion …. there should be an equal number of public and non-public schools in each inner district playoff system.’’
What differs it from the others: It was a result of negotiation between the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, which represents the state’s Catholic schools and had heretofore vehemently opposed separation, and the Pa. Equity Group, a collection of public-school administrators.
It would include charter schools with traditional public schools for playoffs. It applies only to specific team sports: football, boys basketball, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls basketball, girls volleyball, baseball and softball.
It calls for elimination of the PIAA’s current, and recently tightened, transfer rule. It would create a “Super Bowl,’’ game, after the separate state playoffs, for an overall state championship.
House bill 919, introduced June 24 by Conklin. Key text: “The (PIAA) may establish separate playoffs and championships for athletics for boundary and non-boundary schools. Prior to establishing such playoffs the board and oversight committee shall conduct at least one joint meeting in each of the districts that compact that comprise the association meeting should be open to the public.’’
What differs it from the others: It is endorsed by the Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches’ Association. When Conklin originally introduced the bill, at the PSFCA convention in State College in February, it read, “The (PIAA) shall establish, ...’’ rather than “may establish.’’
It’s the only bill that directs PIAA, should it decide to create separate playoffs, to hold public meetings in each of the 12 PIAA districts to discuss the change. It specifically defines charter schools as non-boundary.