From the Erie Times-News: Scott Dibble, the head coach of two-time defending PIAA Class AA girls basketball champion Villa maria Academy, has been removed as the school’s girls’ basketball coach.

Here are the stories:

Dibble resigns

Dibble receives second protection from abuse order

Doug Chuzie named interim head coach at VMA

Been a tough week for PIAA champions from Erie. On Saturday, PIAA wrestling champion Steve Spearman of McDowell was unable to make weight at 130 pounds on the second day of the District 10-AAA tournament, knocking him out of the state championship series.


The PIAA’s basketball steering committee is meeting now to discuss three significant items:

(1) Changing the PIAA basketball brackets strictly along East-West lines;
(2) Discussing separate tournaments for private and public schools in basketball;
and (3) discussing whether to add a multiplier to the enrollments of private schools to reflect their outsized drawing area compared to public sachools.

A reminder: Any decision approved by the steering committee today is non-binding. Such a decision will be forwarded to the full Board of Directors or the PIAA’s Strategic Planning Committee, both of which which will meet July 22-23 in Mechanicsburg.


Here’s the discussion / commentary:


Looked at the proposed brackets (will scan and post later, no need to scan; they’re irrelevant now). As expected, the brackets in Class A and Class AA look fine. But Class AAA and Class AAAA are a wreck.

Example: In AAAA, under the proposed bracket, two teams – the District 1 ninth place team and the District 2 runner-up – would have to play 7 games to play in the state finals; the District 7, 6, 8 and 10 champions would have to play four games. That’s the extreme example, but under current PIAA policy, that’s the way it would have to be bracketed.

A fairer example is to look at either the District 1 or District 12 third-place teams; they would have to play six games, including the state championship; western district champions would still have to play just four. In other words, assuming the District 7-AAAA champion, would have to win just three game to play for a state championship.

District 10 chairman Wally Blucas is saying that the erasure of the East-West lines has hurt the organization and not just in basketball. He especially feels it has hurt financially.

Brad Cashman drops the bomb: “If we want to be really, really serious about solving this problem, we have to look at redistricting.” He brings up the New Jersey model, which resdistricts every time it reclassifies.

And it’s a lead balloon. Other than Blucas saying the PIAA is halfway there in some sports, no one says anything.

There’s a motion to refer the proposed bracketing to the PIAA’s Strategic Planning Committee (comprised of PIAA district representatives) for use in the 2013-2014 school year.

The motion fails, 6-5. And that’s the end of that.

The matter can be revisited by the Board of Directors – and it might – but the Board would do so without a directive from the basketball steering committee. It is rare for the board to take action on a matter rejected by a sport’s steering committee.



Brad Cashman predictably begins the discussion by pointing out that (a) the public-private issue is a basketball-only issue (mostly correct), (b) the PIAA is in the position because of an act of the state legislature in 1972 and (c) it would take an act of the legislature to change it.

District 4 chairman Dr. Jim Zack of Shamokin made that very point: “We could say this [separate tournaments] is great, but it would take an act of the legislature to change this, right?”

Cashman: “That’s the position of this office. We believe that we would face a serious equal-access challenge from the private schools if we attempted this.”

PIAA in-house counsel Michael Solomon says the way the 1972 law is drafted does not necessarily prohibit PIAA from developing separate championships. “Championships weren’t addressed by the law,” Solomon said.

There isn’t much appetite for separate championships in the room. In the end, the steering committee moves that the Strategic Planning Committee review its own minutes of March 24, 2007 on the subject to see if it would consider the subject. The motion passed, 6-4.

What happened in 2007 is the PIAA looked at how many classifications it would need in each sport if it would separate the public and private schools and still stay within policy. It found then that basketball would need five public classifications and one private classification. This also means that all private schools, big and small, would have to play in a single championship.

Expect no change here.


Now this could get interesting. Some states – Arkansas, Illinois, Missouri – use a “multiplier” to increase the enrollment of the private school to make an accommodation for its status as a non-boundary school.

For instance, Illinois will determine each school’s classification based on exact enrollment. Then, in the case of the private schools, it will multiply the private schools’ enrollment by 1.65 to give it an enrollment figure that will determine its classification. Needless to say, this often results in a school rising in classification.

Cashman seems a little animated by this. He seems to think Illinois’ model is the best in the country on the matter, in large measure because Illinois applies the multiplier not just to Catholic schools, but to all private schools including charter schools, magnet schools and – this is important – public schools with open enrollment.

That WOULD shake the classification tree quite a bit.

Discussion now is if a multiplier is applied, would it be applied BEFORE the PIAA makes it classification determination or AFTER the PIAA makes its determination based on exact enrollment, and then adjust the classifications? Good discussion.

There’s a motion by District 4’s Jim Zack to have Strategic Planning consider the multiplier. Lots of discussion, including the idea that PIAA would survive any legal challenge to the idea.

By the way, if you’re wondering why all of this is being passed on to Strategic Planning instead of directly to the board, it’s because Strategic Planning
is a committee comprised wholly of PIAA district representatives. The idea is that districts have the most gain or lose from these matters and is the best place to research and discuss these matters.

I don’t always buy that, of course.

Discussion is getting lively. Some folks feel the current system isn’t necessarily fair to the publics, but is not broken. Others believe a multiplier would be unnecessarily penal to private schools, especially small private schools, that don’t use their athletic programs as a recruiting tool. Others believe the multiplier system itself merits more investigation.

Back to Zack’s motion (Strategic Planning consider a multiplier for non-boundary schools): It passes 7-4.

So what does this mean? It means that a multiplier for private schools AND open enrollment schools is on the table. This could be very interesting.

That’s it for the agenda items, but PIAA assistant executive director Mark Byers throws out the idea of regional sites for basketball. Instead of games being scattered throughout the state, the PIAA would have game played at a pre-determined regional site on three separate weekends, playing back-to-back games on Fridays and Saturdays each of those weekends. Such a format would eliminate mid-week games.

That is a GREAT idea, one I’ve long supported. But it was met with virtual shrugs by the steering committee.

District 9 chairman Jim Manners picks up the ball and moves to have 6 classifications in basketball, weekend tournaments and a review of the PIAA’s cooperative sponsorship to Strategic Planning. It passes unanimously, 11-0. That is fantastic news. It means those issues won’t die and will at least get a hearing among the districts.

The PIAA’s Strategic Planning Committee will meet at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 22. The full Board of Directors meet later that evening.

Meeting is adjourned. The net result: No east-west brackets, no separate tournaments, multiplier is in play as well as increased classifications and regional sites. That’s a good morning’s work.

And fast, too: For the first time in recent memory, a PIAA meeting adjourned before lunch arrived at the office. (No, I didn’t have a freebie; I took the daughters swimming.)


Sorry, site was down for a while. Hosting issue.  First time it’s happened in the history of the web, I know.

We’re updating frequently from the PIAA’s Basketball Steering Committee. Not sure how much newsy news will come out of today’s meeting, but what there is will be posted here. Gotta be some public v private discussion today.

Note: Basketball has adjourned.  Done posting for the day on hoops.


Well, something big DID happen while the site was down (of course).

The basketball steering committee will reconvene on Wednesday, June 23 at 9 a.m. at the PIAA office in Cumberland County to discuss in depth the possibility of returning to an East-West championship and possible solutions to the ever-roiling public-private issue.

There is some sentiment to go back to East-West, but I’d say that cat is dead.  A couple of basketball committee members want basketball carved out of the PIAA’s current qualifying policy and establishing its own qualifying policy.  That’s a huge hill to climb, politically and legally, but the issue will be on the table.

The public v private issue is another matter.  Although its biggest impact by far is in basketball, there are other sports that are affected by the whole public-private issue.  This meeting could be the start of getting the whole private-school enrollment ball rolling again.


District 10 chairman Wally Blucas has submitted a proposed amendment to the Proportional Representation Policy on Qualifiers suggesting that a state basketball championship match a team from an eastern district against a team from a western district. Essentially, he’s calling for the return of an East-West bracket, yet proposes doing so without reducing the number of qualifiers. Given the imbalance that exists statewide in certain classifications, that will be quite the trick.

Blucas said he’s getting feedback that people don’t like teams from the same district meeting for a state championship and brought up the example of his two District 10 AA teams – Fort LeBoeuf and Reynolds – meeting for the PIAA Team Wrestling Championship. Blucas said he “didn’t think it was right.” I’m willing to bet Fort LeBoeuf disagrees.

PIAA assistant exec Mark Byers points out that the whole reason the East-West bracket was eliminated was to have the two finalists represent a roughly equal number of teams on each side of the bracket. Byers noted that if PIAA went back to East-West, the East rep would come from a pool of 143 teams. The West rep would come from a pool of 43 teams. Touche.

Cashman points out that implementing an East-West bracket in other sports would shorten the regular season in some cases in order to keep the same number of playoff qualifiers.

Now the commitee has moved to a proposal by Lewistown girls’ basketball coach Kevin Kodish that makes the same East-West argument as Blucas, but proposes different bracketing to make it work. Basically, Kodish is making a plea for more qualifiers from some of the smaller districts.

The bottom line on this issue: Here comes a proposal from District 7 to expand the tournament’s first round (essentially eliminating play-ins) and provide for an East-West championship.  It fails, 11-3


Discussion now about the play-in round. Complaints from District 2 about play-in games being played on a home floor of one of the play-in participants.

PIAA executive director Brad Cashman forces the issue on play-in round complaints by pointing out that the play-in games are essentially in violation of PIAA qualifying policy. So he asked the committee if they wanted to make motion to eliminate the play-ins. No motion was forthcoming.

District 9 chairman Jim Manners suggested that PIAA staff develop a statement explaining the purpose of the play-in round. Cashman said PIAA would do that.

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