Against Wolf’s wishes, PIAA greenlights fall sports

    (Capital-Star photo by Elizabeth Hardison)

    Bucking the guidance of Pennsylvania’s Governor and top health official, a state panel voted overwhelmingly on Friday to allow high school sports to resume for the fall season.

    The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association, or PIAA, voted 25-5 to allow fall sports to begin on Monday, Aug. 24, as long as schools approve health and safety plans and submit them to the state first.

    “[We] have heard the thousands of voices of student-athletes, parents, coaches officials, as well as community leaders that have contacted us,” the PIAA board of directors said in a statement announcing the vote Friday.

    The move comes two weeks after Gov. Tom Wolf surprised student athletes and parents when he said that fall sports should be postponed until Jan. 2021.

    The remarks, which Wolf made at the end of an unrelated press conference, aggravated PIAA leaders and mostly Republican lawmakers, who said schools should be able to decide whether they can offer sports safely.

    Student athletes and their supporters rallied on the Capitol steps on Thursday, the same day a House committee approved a Republican-authored bill that would give districts the final say on the fall sports season.

    Under guidelines issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Education in June, districts were already required to submit health and safety plans to the state before resuming athletic practices.

    Fall sports resumed piecemeal across Pennsylvania this summer. Football players from at least three school districts have tested positive for COVID-19, leading their teams to quarantine and cancel practices.