State Representative Gene DiGirolamo hosted a public hearing at the Heinz Field, home to the Steelers, in Pittsburgh this morning to hash out issues regarding private and public high school sports.
This hearing follows one held in June of this year during which the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference and the Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools their perspectives. Rep. DiGirolamo serves as the chairman to the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association.
“I really think it’s important to note there is a perception in some circles that the private schools have a competitive advantage in high school athletic competition and that this has been a subject of regular discussion,” DiGirolamo said in opening.
Superintendents, athletic directors, and representatives of PIAA all had a chance to voice their concerns on topics like separate championships, students playing for different districts, and players displaced by new talent.
Other committee members on the panel included Representatives Mike Reese (R-Westmoreland) and Robert F. Matzie (D-Beaver), and Senators Scott Martin (R-Lancaster) and Jay Costa (D-Allegheny).
“If there’s unfairness in the process and in athletic competition derived from the structure, that’s what we look at,” said Senator Costa.
Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School Athletic Director Mike Bariski spoke to the committee for 20 minutes at the hearing about the issues facing Charter, Catholic, and private schools in general.
“We believe there is a way around the transfer rules that will work for everybody,” Bariski said. “If you close all the loopholes, it works better for all schools.”
Allegedly, loopholes in the current high school sports system allow students to transfer to a school they normally would not be eligible to attend, creating competitive imbalances.
“I think the House and Senate can work on this together and maybe come up with an ideal proposal,” DiGirolamo said to the panel and Bariski.
The testimony at the hearing will help create new policy to improve Pennsylvania’s high school sports.