By Neil Geoghegan
The first academic year using the PIAA’s expanded classification system recently ended. And even though we are only halfway through the initial two-year experiment, some interesting impressions have already formed.
“Change is always difficult and sometimes it takes a while to accept things,” said West Chester Henderson Athletic Director Ken McCormick. “In five or 10 years from now, most won’t even know we did this.”
What is ‘this?’ Well, in October of 2015, after 10 months of debate, the PIAA Board of Directors voted to expand the district and state playoff classifications for a total of 11 sports starting with the 2016-17 season. Football, boys’ and girls’ basketball, baseball and softball was increased from four to six classes. Boys’ and girls’ soccer and volleyball was expanded to four, field hockey to three, and boys’ and girls’ lacrosse to two.
The primary stated goals for the change were twofold: to create a more even playing field, and to give more teams an opportunity to participate in the postseason.
“One of the goals was to give teams more of an opportunity, which it certainly did,” said Chris Lunardi, the athletic director at West Chester Rustin.
It also addressed some of the enrollment inequities, according to Lunardi. For example, the previous 4A classification for District 1 football, he pointed out, included Rustin – which has an enrollment of just over 1,200 – to North Penn, with over 3,000.