Governance & Eligibility
PIAA is divided for administrative purposes into 12 geographic districts, each of which has a District Committee elected by the PIAA member schools within the District. They are PIAA at the local and regional level.
In the PIAA Constitution, the member schools have provided substantial flexibility for each District to determine its governing structure. The only mandate is that at least one member of the District Committee be a representative of the junior high/middle schools of the District, one a representative of the School Boards, and one a representative of the PIAA registered sports officials. The Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) Board of Directors appoints the School Board member for a term of two years. The officials' representative(s) is (are) elected for a term of two years by the PIAA registered sports officials in the District. All of the other members must be employees of a PIAA member school or of a school district which has at least one member in PIAA, and all are elected for one year terms, except for the junior high/middle schools' representative, who has a two year term. The Constitution specifically provides, that beyond these requirements, the member schools of that particular District shall decide the makeup of each District Committee.
With the sometime exception of the officials' representative, all of the members of the District Committees are experienced professional educators who have background and experience in dealing with high school athletics. All of the members of the District Committees serve as volunteers.
After the schools elect the members of their District Committee, the Committee members elect a chairman, who becomes that District's representative on the PIAA Board of Directors. One of the Districts (District 7), by virtue of the number of member schools under its jurisdiction, has two additional representatives on the Board of Directors. Two of the Districts (District 1 and 3), by virtue of the number of member schools under their respective jurisdictions, each have a second representative on the Board of Directors. As a result, persons directly representing member schools hold 16 of the 30 seats on the Board of Directors.
The District Committees usually have regular meetings on a monthly basis, except during the summer. Any member of the District Committee, or the Principal of any member school within that District, may place items on the agenda for those meetings.
Board of Directors
The PIAA Board of Directors is the statewide governing body of the organization. In addition to the 16 members who directly represent Districts, the Board of Directors includes representatives of the member junior high/middle schools, the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA), the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators (PASA), the Pennsylvania Association of Secondary School Principals (PASSP), the Pennsylvania State Athletic Directors Association (PSADA), the Pennsylvania Coaches’ Association (PCA), the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), one female and one male PIAA-registered sports official, the Chairpersons of the Girls' Athletics and Private Schools’ Steering Committees, and one female and one male parents’ representative. Again, with the sometime exception of the officials' and parents’ representatives, all of the members of the Board of Directors are experienced professional educators who have background and experience in dealing with high school athletics.
The Board of Directors has six meetings each year. Any member of the Board may place an item on the agenda by informing the Executive Director, and any member school Principal may place an item on the agenda by informing either the Executive Director or his District Chairman. As with members of the District Committees, the members of the Board of Directors serve as volunteers.
The principal areas in which we provide rules for eligibility are age, amateur status, attendance, parental consent, pre-participation physical evaluation, transfers and residence, period of participation (semesters and seasons), and academic performance. These rules are adopted and amended by the Board of Directors. Procedurally, they are subject to a Protocol which provides for their being read three times at different Board of Directors’ meetings. After the first reading, which requires a majority vote, the proposed rule or amendment is printed in the PIAA Quarterly, posted on the PIAA Web site at www.piaa.org, and distributed for comment by the member schools and at District Committee meetings. If the rule receives a second reading, which also requires a majority vote, it is again printed in the PIAA Quarterly and posted on the PIAA Web site at www.piaa.org, which provides another opportunity for comment. At the third reading, it is up for final adoption, and requires the affirmative votes of 20 of 30 members of the Board of Directors. Those rules then become effective the following July 1. The Protocol also provides for flexibility for adoption over a shorter period of time or, if necessary, immediately, in order to meet emergency circumstances.
We also have procedures for making decisions on the eligibility of individual students under these rules. Those decisions are made at three levels, beginning with the member school Principal. Determining eligibility is one of the basic responsibilities of the Principal, who is required to certify to his/her student-athletes' eligibility on a sheet which is then presented to opponents. Over 95% of the eligibility decisions are made by the Principal.
The second level is the District Committee, and eligibility decisions may reach it in three ways: (1) on submission by a member school, (2) on complaint by another member school, or (3) on the District Committee's own motion based upon information it may have received. By far the primary means of a District Committee's receiving a case is on submission by a member school as to one of its athletes.
The member schools also amended the Constitution to provide that District Committees may create hearing panels consisting of at least five members, which permits eligibility decisions at the District Committee level to be made without having to wait for the next regular District Committee meeting. In a given year, approximately 2,000 students have their eligibility determined at the District Committee level. About 8 to 12 of these are appealed each year.
Under the PIAA Constitution, a school, which is dissatisfied with the District Committee’s determination on the eligibility of one of its students, has a right of appeal to the State level. If the case arose on a complaint from another school, and the complaining school is dissatisfied, it also has a constitutional right of appeal. These appeals can be heard by the full Board of Directors, or by a Board of Appeal, which consists of at least five members of the Board of Directors, one of whom must be an officer. The Board of Appeal functions at the State level as the hearing panels function at the District Committee level, and allow eligibility decisions to be made without waiting for the next Board of Directors’ meeting. As a result, the majority of appeal decisions are made by Boards of Appeal.