The complaints about the private and Catholic schools having a competitive advantage could be quieted soon.
That’s because of a bill proposed by state Rep. Aaron Bernstine (R-Beaver/Butler/Lawrence County) that would split public and nonpublic schools into separate postseason tournaments in eight team sports that show a statistical disparity. The split would occur in only PIAA tournaments with football, boys and girls basketball, softball, boys and girls soccer and girls volleyball.
No separation would be made during the regular season or district playoffs but it would altar the landscape of high school sports in Pennsylvania if approved by the state house, senate and Gov. Tom Wolf.
The bill would then create a tournament of champions approach in basketball, where the public school state champs would play the Catholic/private school champions.
Charter schools would be in the same playoffs as public schools.
The PIAA has avoided splitting public and private schools despite the urge across the commonwealth, and refers back to a law from 1972. It released a statement Tuesday opposing the proposal and the legislation included that would allow athletes to switch schools with little restriction.
“The Board of Directors, after studying the issue, does not believe creating segregated public/private classifications and/or tournaments is the answer,” the PIAA said in the statement. “The elimination of the transfer rule would expose Pennsylvania athletes and schools to the chaos that has resulted in those states which have done so. It requires little research to see what has happened in states that permit open transfers. While we understand desires to solve perceived problems, this approach is contrary to the Pennsylvania Athletic Oversight Committee’s direction, which is to have all the represented constituencies, discus and address the issues. PIAA believes that this proposed legislation is ill-advised, contrary to the purposes of the PIAA, is unfair to our membership and should be rejected.”
Bernstine is hopeful the House will pass the bill before recess later this summer. The Senate would then examine the bill when it returns in September.
Lestini qualifies for national tournament: For the second consecutive year, South Fayette senior golfer Luke Lestini has qualified for the Junior PGA Championship. He finished second at a qualifier earlier this week at Willowbrook Country Club.
Lestini will join 144 players from across the country at Keney Park Golf Course in Hartford, Conn. The tournament will run from July 30 to Aug. 2.
He missed the cut at last year’s championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky., by shooting a 77 and 78 in the first two rounds.
As a junior, Lestini won the Tri-State Section Boys Junior PGA Championship at Fox Run Golf Course in Beaver Falls. He finished in 10th place with an 81 at the WPIAL Class AAA Championships at Oakmont Country Club. He qualified for the state finals and placed 16th.
Phillis adds offer: The first offer for Burgettstown senior kicker Seth Phillis is from a Division I school.
Phillis recently picked up an offer from Kent State University, which might be the first of many if he replicates his success from last season.
As a junior, Phillis made 36 of 42 extra-point attempts, went 5-for-7 on field goals, including a long of 48 yards, and had 33 touchbacks on 56 kickoffs.
Interest grows for PT pair: The offers continue to roll in for Peters Township football players Josh Casilli and Corban Hondru.
Casilli, a senior wide receiver, added offers from Duquesne, Holy Cross, Cornell, Rhode Island, Lafayette and Maine over the past several weeks. He had 51 receptions for 892 yards and 11 touchdowns last season for the Indians.
Hondru, a linebacker, picked up an offer from Akron. The leader on the Peters Township defense had 67 tackles, 17 tackles for loss and seven sacks as a sophomore.
Both were Observer-Reporter Fabulous 15 selections last year.