PIAA: Board of Control alters specific transfer rule

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High school student-athletes in Pennsylvania will be able to transfer schools without penalty if their school drops a sport for financial reasons.

That was one of the new rules passed at the PIAA Board of Control meeting Thursday night in Mechanicsburg, Pa. Previously, if a school dropped a sport because of financial cutbacks and student-athletes transferred schools, they would be ruled ineligible because of transferring for athletic intent.

Under the new rule, if a school terminates one or more athletic programs "primarily" for financial reasons, a student-athlete is permitted to transfer without penalty to a contiguous public school, or a private or parochial school in the district.

The student-athlete does not have to move if the transfer is to a contiguous district. But the student-athlete must move if the transfer is not to a contiguous district. Also, the new rule requires the student must have been a member of the disbanded team the previous year.

This rule comes on the heels of a law passed recently by the state legislature that demanded the PIAA make athletes eligible immediately if they transferred after their school disbanded one or more athletic programs. The legislature threatened to disband the PIAA if the organization did not adopt the rule.

Football season shortened?

The PIAA strategic planning committee also met Thursday and came up with a proposal that will shorten football season from 16 weeks to 15. The proposal will be voted on today at Board of Control meeting.

Part of the proposal allows each district to decide whether to eliminate a preseason scrimmage. Schools are allowed two preseason scrimmages.

"The 15-week season is amenable to us, provided that our champions plug into the PIAA semifinals," WPIAL executive director Tim O'Malley said.

Currently, all four WPIAL champions automatically qualify for the PIAA quarterfinals. The reason the WPIAL wants its champions in the PIAA semifinals in a 15-week season is because it would allow the WPIAL to still have four weeks of playoffs.

If the season is cut to 15 weeks and the WPIAL champions still qualify for only the quarterfinals, then the WPIAL would have to cut its playoffs from 16 to eight teams in all classifications.

In one other PIAA matter, the Board of Control backed up the WPIAL in a transfer ruling. The PIAA ruled Tim Johnson ineligible to compete in football at Greensburg Central Catholic, saying he transferred from Kiski Area because of athletic reasons. Johnson also plays basketball and will be eligible to compete in other sports besides football.

Basketball coaching

Baldwin will name a new boys basketball coach Aug. 10 and one of the candidates is another McConnell.

Tom McConnell has been a head coach and assistant at the Division I college level. A younger brother, Tim, is the coach at Chartiers Valley and younger sister, Suzie McConnell Serio, is Duquesne University's women's coach.

Tom McConnell was the head coach at Saint Francis, Pa., for seven years (1992-99), and has been an assistant coach at Wake Forest, Marquette and Dayton. He was an assistant women's coach at the University of Colorado for another sister, Kathy McConnell-Miller. If Tom McConnell gets the job, he would go against his brother twice every season because Baldwin and Chartiers Valley are in the same section.

Mike White: mwhite@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1975.


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