Matzie to introduce legislation to examine PIAA policy, practices, finances and structure with view toward comprehensive overhaul

Says first step is changing the way schools are classified

HARRISBURG, Jan. 5 – State Rep. Rob Matzie announced today that he will be introducing legislation to analyze the policy, practices, finances and structure of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association, with an eye toward overhauling how the PIAA operates and makes decisions.

Matzie, who is the vice chairman and longest-serving member of the Pennsylvania Athletic Oversight Committee, said he is introducing his legislation in response to his and other lawmakers’ concerns – particularly involving the ways in which PIAA classifies schools for competition – that can impact the fairness of those competitions and endanger student athlete safety.

“This is an issue we worked on two years ago, but after Aliquippa was successful in their appeal, I believed the issue was solved,” Matzie said. “The board, in reversing the initial decision, gave the impression that they would be open to changes to the formula. They indeed did, making it worse by removing player safety as a consideration. Now that this issue has reared its ugly head again, it’s time for the legislature to act.”

Matzie said that because of a flaw in the classification formula that PIAA uses to determine the athletic levels at which high schools will complete, schools like Aliquippa that voluntarily play up in a higher classification are then pigeonholed by the association into that classification used for the formula, regardless of the school’s actual enrollment size.

Matzie said the PIAA formula endangers students from schools that don’t have the bodies to field larger rosters or the financial resources to match larger athletic budgets, in effect punishing schools that voluntarily seek better competition.

“I would wage this fight for Aliquippa or any student athlete in our commonwealth,” Matzie said. “Simply put, it’s unfair, unsafe and a dangerous disadvantage to our kids. What’s most disturbing, is that I believe that this rule comes off as ignorant at best and arrogant at worst. Legislative action is necessary, and necessary now. Be assured, however, this is just the beginning. It’s been nearly 25 years since the last thorough review of the PIAA. It’s well past time for the legislature to have another look.”