LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

YAIAA coaches react to PIAA reclassification ruling

MECHANICSBURG- In 2016, the PIAA landscape is going to look very, very different.

And not just on the football field.

A landmark motion to expand to six football classifications was passed by 26-4 count during the PIAA Board of Directors meeting on Wednesday afternoon.

Then, in possibly an even bigger surprise, the board voted to also expand classes for 10 other sports, after suspending its normal protocol that requires a proposal be approved on three separate readings. The football expansion passed its third and final reading.

"It was pretty obvious from talking to our committee members that we wanted six classifications," District 3 Chairman Ron Kennedy said of the football change. "It was a pretty simple vote. I will say I was surprised it was 26-4. I thought it would be a little closer than that. We're happy it passed and looking forward to working with the six classifications."

The PIAA has had four classes in football since 1988.

Opposing the motion, John B. Fullen Sr., a District 7 representative, read a letter citing concerns over travel time, financial burdens and the loss of geographic rivalries.

A hotly contest topic over several years, a big reason behind the change is to level the playing field for all school to be more competitive.

"The biggest thing we heard in our district was narrowing the gap. The traditional 4A schools that were on the low end had a difficult time every year battling the schools that had more kids than they had," District 3 Vice Chairman Doug Bohannon said. "With six equal classifications, it will narrow the numbers in that gap. That will be the most interesting piece in that."

With 576 football schools in the state, there will be roughly 96 schools per class (as opposed to 144). Every school has the opportunity to move up in class, if desired.

Enrollment numbers and classifications will be released later this month.

After that motion passed, the board used suspended protocol to make another monumental move in expanding classes in boys' and girls' basketball (6), baseball (6), softball (6), boys' and girls' soccer (4), girls' volleyball (4), field hockey (3) and boys' and girls' lacrosse (2).

This motion passed by a count of 23-7, although some board members, including Kennedy, voiced concerns about voting on expanding other sports without talking to the schools they represent.

"We talked about football for over a year and we took about five minutes to do that other sports. Not that we aren't in favor of it, but I think the thing that we've done a really good job of is going out and talking to the people we work for," Kennedy said. "We did that with football, and in that case, we would like to take it out to our schools to get their input."

The next big challenge for District 3 could be reworking the playoff system with six classifications.

"That's going to be a huge undertaking because we have to see where everybody is," Bohannon said. "Not just in football but in all the other sports, too."

"We were pretty set with the playoff system we had, and of course, the power rankings work really well for us. Now our next big challenge in the playoff system and what it's going to look like," Kennedy said.

Also passed earlier in the meeting was a motion stating that each district can choose to use the second football scrimmage date instead as a regular-season game. This is all part of a new, shortened 15-week season.

"What we're happy about is that football final weekend will be tip-off tournament weekend and not two weeks into it (basketball)," Bohannon said. "That was the biggest drive: to get down to a 15-week season."

All of these changes will take effect in the fall of 2016.

"In theory, the disparity between classifications isn't going to be quite as large," Kennedy said. "There are a lot of unknowns about that but we'll have to wait and see what it looks like."

From the archives

Column: PIAA football expansion is long overdue

What PIAA football could look like with six classifications | Editor's note: The classifications won't be finalized until 2016 enrollment numbers are finalized in roughly the next month.

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://www.gametimepa.com/story/high-school/lancaster-lebanon/sports/2015/10/07/breaking-piaa-expands-high-school-football-classifications/75271314/