Sen. Martin: 5/7/2020

Sen. Scott Martin (R., Martic Township) speaks during a joint Senate hearing about impact of COVID-19 on long term care facilities on Thursday, May 7, 2020.

The Senate Republican communications office sent out a press release Friday stating that the Pennsylvania Athletic Oversight Committee will meet next week to discuss the plans put forth by the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association and its member schools to safely resume school sports this fall.

For those unfamiliar with the committee, it was created in 2004 as a legislative oversight committee. It meets at least once a year for the purposes of reviewing the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association's continued compliance with Act 91 of 2000, responding to issues related to the activities of the PIAA and to issue an annual report of its findings to the presiding officers in both chambers.

For instance, the committee has been involved in the boundary vs. non-boundary debate that has gained steamed in recent years, in part due to a 1972 law that has long been interpreted by both the committee and the PIAA to prohibit separate public-private playoffs.

Next week's meeting is scheduled to take place Tuesday at 11 a.m. in the Senate Chamber, but will be held through a Zoom conference. Officials from the PIAA and athletic districts across the state are expected to attend.

The meeting comes as the PIAA is set to meet with Gov. Wolf on Friday afternoon, about a week after Wolf issued a recommendation that no youth or recreational sports be played until Jan. 1, 2021. Wolf reaffirmed that at his news conference Thursday.

“That’s my recommendation," Wolf said. "School districts are going to do what they want.”

Over the course of the last week or so, several Republican lawmakers across the state have been pushing for youth sports to go ahead with a fall season, including Sen. Scott Martin, of Martic Township, who is a member of the committee.

Martin, by the way, was a standout wrestler and football player in his prep days at Lancaster Catholic High School before becoming an All-American defensive lineman at Millersville University in the 1990s, and later spent time in the Arena Football League.

Here's the full press release in its entirety...

HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Athletic Oversight Committee will meet next week to discuss the plans by the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA), school superintendents, coaches, and athletic directors to resume school sports safely this fall, according to Senator Scott Martin (R-13).

Several weeks ago, the PIAA announced guidelines for fall sports to resume safely in accordance with the Wolf Administration’s green-phase guidance. Without warning to the PIAA or school districts, Governor Wolf announced at an August 6 press conference that he believes no school sports should take place until 2021.

In response to the abrupt change in guidance from the Wolf Administration, the PIAA voted to delay school sports seasons by two weeks in order to get more input from the Wolf Administration and lawmakers. The Pennsylvania Athletic Oversight Committee will discuss next week how to facilitate a safe return to school sports this fall, Martin said.

“School sports play a critical role in the mental health and development of young people, and every effort should be made to ensure students can participate in these activities safely in the fall,” Martin said. “Many recreation leagues were able to function without incident over the summer. I look forward to discussing ways that we can learn from their example to ensure school sports can resume in a way that ensures the health and safety of everyone involved.”

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