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PA State Rep Rob Matzie Ready to Fight the PIAA With Aliquippa

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Residents of Aliquippa and observers of high school football aren’t the only people with questions regarding the PIAA’s competitive balance formula.

A day after it was announced that, barring a reversal in the form of an appeal, the Aliquippa football team will be forced to play in Class-5A despite having an enrollment that is on par with the low levels of Class-2A football, a state representative is taking issue with the PIAA.

Pennsylvania State Representative Rob Matzie announced that he will be introducing legislation to analyze the policy, practices, finances and structure of the PIAA with an aim 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, announced his proposed legislation is in response to his and other lawmakers’ concerns involving how the PIAA classifies schools for competition — that can impact the fairness of those competitions and endanger high school student-athletes.

“This is an issue we worked on two years ago, but after Aliquippa was successful in their appeal, I believed the issue was resolved,” Matzie told PSN. “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 was a consideration. Now that this issue has reared its ugly head again, it’s time for the legislature to act.”

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Matzie echoed the sentiments of Aliquippa football head coach Mike Warfield, bringing up the way that Aliquippa is being punished despite initially voluntarily playing up in classification. Their current enrollment numbers indicate that Aliquippa should be playing in Class-2A, and that’s after back-to-back years of Class-1A enrollment.

Matzie also said that 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,” said Matzie. “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.”

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