WPIAL rejects Butler’s compromise, leaving football team ineligible for District 10 playoffs

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Monday, March 14, 2022 | 7:00 p.m.


The WPIAL rejected a compromise proposed Monday by Butler’s administration that would have allowed the school’s football team to play in the District 10 playoffs for the next two seasons.

Butler’s proposed plan promised that the Golden Tornado would return to WPIAL competition in two years, but WPIAL’s board of directors voted to reject the request. Butler can face District 10 opponents in the 2022 and 23 regular seasons as scheduled, but the team remains ineligible for postseason competition, WPIAL executive director Amy Scheuneman said.

School district officials have previously said Butler may take legal action.

Butler left WPIAL football two years ago for an independent schedule with no return deadline. School administrators had hoped a favorable schedule as an “associate member” of District 10 would get the program back on its feet after back-to-back seasons without a win in 2018 and 2019.

The WPIAL does not oppose teams playing independent schedules, but wants to avoid a situation where schools can pick and choose an easier path to the PIAA playoffs elsewhere.

“If the reason for leaving is athletic competitiveness, there are a lot of struggling programs in our district that continue to operate, make the playoffs and improve their programs within our district,” Scheuneman said.

She said the WPIAL board’s sentiment hasn’t changed since Jan. 18, when it voted to block Butler from competing in the District 10 playoffs. The WPIAL board discussed Monday about the proposal in executive session.

The PIAA board held an appeal hearing for Butler last month and upheld WPIAL’s earlier decision. During that hearing, PIAA Executive Director Bob Lombardi said the results would be detrimental to the PIAA if teams were allowed to leave one PIAA district for an easier playoff path in another.

“Why would we even have districts then?” Lombardi said during the February 23 appeal hearing. “It seems to me – and this is not a shot at another district – you are saying that one district can be a little more competitive than the other, and you want to have the choice to go where you want to go. . Other (school) districts do not have this choice throughout our state. Why are you different?

Lombardi suggested Butler should consider moving all sports to District 10 instead.

Butler’s situation began in the winter of 2019-20.

The football team went 15-78 combined in the previous decade, so the school hoped to find an easier schedule elsewhere with plans to expand its program.

Butler requested permission to join District 10 as an associate member, but the WPIAL Board of Directors denied that request at its December 2019 meeting.

However, about a month later, the WPIAL, under then-Executive Director Tim O’Malley, backtracked and sent a letter to District 10, saying that the WPIAL no longer opposed Butler’s request. Scheuneman has since said that O’Malley’s letter was sent without the approval of the WPIAL board.

Butler went 5-5 last season and lost to McDowell, 40-21, in the District 10 playoffs. The district had only three Class 6A teams, so their playoff game was also the district final. If Butler had won, the team would have qualified for the state tournament.

School administrators said winning a district title was not the reason the team joined District 10, but they insisted that reaching the playoffs was a big incentive for a team trying to rebuild. However, after seeing Butler in the playoffs, the WPIAL board took action in January to ban the team from future postseason games.

“One of the goals our football team leaders have set for the program is to make the playoffs for a second straight year,” Butler’s coach Eric Christy told the board on Monday. from WPIAL. “Currently that’s not possible, and our players just don’t understand. They asked us what they did wrong and we don’t have a good answer for them.

Chris Harlan is an editor of the Tribune-Review. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

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