WPIAL rules one Birch brother eligible, other brother ineligible after hearing

Chris Harlan, The Tribune-Review, Greensburg
·2 min read

May 4—The WPIAL handed Gateway transfers Brett and Brad Birch a good news, bad news scenario Monday.

Older brother Brett, a junior, was granted eligibility to play football next fall, but younger brother Brad, a freshman, was ruled ineligible, WPIAL executive director Amy Scheuneman said. The WPIAL held one combined hearing for both Monday afternoon in Green Tree and reached a different decision on each.

Yet, both votes were unanimous.

"The board felt they were different situation," Scheuneman said. "Everybody presented their information and the board voted differently on each kid."

The hearing was closed at the schools' request, so Scheuneman declined to elaborate. Their previous school, Jeannette, had flagged the transfers as potentially motivated by athletic interests.

"A lot of things were discussed at the hearing," Scheuneman said. "Every board member may have their own reason for voting certain ways."

Gateway can appeal to the PIAA.

Brad Birch is a freshman quarterback who already has a scholarship offer from Oregon, and junior Brett Birch is a standout wide receiver and defensive back.

Monday's decision made Brett Birch eligible to compete only in the regular season next fall. Gateway would need to request and receive a postseason waiver from the WPIAL for him to compete in the playoffs.

Both players earned all-state honors in the fall after leading the Jayhawks to the program's 10th WPIAL title and a PIAA runner-up finish in Class A.

The boys' father, Bob, has said the move was not related to football. He has a new job that requires travel, so he would prefer his sons live with their mother in the Gateway School District.

The WPIAL board had initially voted April 14 to deny athletic eligibility to both after the football standouts transferred in March from Jeannette to Gateway. That decision was based on paperwork submitted by the schools.

This story will be updated.

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .