PIAA denies Aliquippa's first appeal, citing success points and transfers as reason

·3 min read
Aliquippa head coach Mike Warfield on the sidelines against Belle Vernon in the WPIAL 4A Championship on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021, at Heinz Field.
Aliquippa head coach Mike Warfield on the sidelines against Belle Vernon in the WPIAL 4A Championship on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021, at Heinz Field.

Aliquippa High School’s first appeal to the PIAA regarding the PIAA’s decision to move the Quips’ football program up from Class 4A to 5A starting this fall was denied Thursday afternoon.

A letter from the PIAA sent to Aliquippa, obtained by The Times from a source within the Aliquippa football program, details the organization’s reasoning. The PIAA states that its executive staff decided to deny this initial appeal by the Quips due to the team’s six “success points” — two from qualifying for the quarterfinals of the 2020 PIAA Class 4A playoffs and four from qualifying for the 2021 PIAA Class 4A title game — and eight transfers over the past two seasons.

“By virtue of 8 transfers and 6 success points, Aliquippa HS is to move up to the 5A classification in football for the 2022-23 and 2023-24 school years,” PIAA Executive Director Robert Lombardi wrote in the letter. “… Therefore, your appeal is denied.”

In a Facebook post after receiving the PIAA’s decision, Aliquippa School District Superintendent Phillip K. Woods wrote: “There was no response to the written documentation provided to the executive board verifying that changes in our classification will not provide a competitive advantage over like sized schools …”

While Woods, head coach Mike Warfield, athletic director Brandon LeDonne and others who have led the charge for the Quips throughout this on-going battle with the PIAA are disappointed, they say this is what they expected all along.

“If you heard the PIAA’s comments prior to this, even before the end of the season, the decision was already made a long time ago,” Warfield told The Times on Thursday night. “It doesn’t surprise me. It’s disappointing, but it doesn’t surprise me. The PIAA and the WPIAL — when it comes to Aliquippa — basically it’s the same. We’re always going to get the short end of the stick.”

LeDonne said that though the PIAA’s decision is consistent with its competition formula, there are “a lot of questions” that those within the Aliquippa football program still have “that haven’t necessarily been answered.”

The third-year athletic director wouldn’t disclose what those questions are in an interview Thursday night with The Times.

Aliquippa now has until noon on Jan. 21 to decide whether it wants to appeal to the PIAA’s board of directors — which the school’s leadership says it fully intends to do. Warfield said that it’s difficult for him to be optimistic about the outcome of the second appeal, though, since he believes that decision will be made by “basically the same people who oversaw the first appeal.”

“But we are going to continue to fight — we aren’t going to give up,” Warfield said. “We are going to fight for our kids — that’s the most important thing. We will fight for our kids, no matter what the result may be.”

More: Pressure mounts on PIAA ahead of its decision on Aliquippa football's appeal

This article originally appeared on Beaver County Times: PIAA's executive staff denies Aliquippa football's appeal

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