Aliquippa Football Coach Prepares for Legal Battle against PIAA Classification Ruling

By: Chris Harlan

Tuesday, February 20, 2024 | 2:58 AM

Christopher Horner | TribLive

Aliquippa head coach Mike Warfield talks with his team after a turnover during the PIAA Class 4A state championship game against Bishop McDevitt on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022, at Cumberland Valley High School.

The WPIAL revealed an updated football alignment Monday that has Aliquippa sharing a Class 5A conference with Fox Chapel, North Hills, Penn Hills, Pine-Richland, Plum and Shaler.

Quips coach Mike Warfield said he saw the list and wasn’t sure how to feel, knowing those could be their conference opponents for the 2024 and ’25 seasons. But Warfield insisted that just because the WPIAL released a conference alignment doesn’t mean the school’s fight to avoid 5A was over.

“Those teams are good. It’s going to definitely be a challenge,” he said. “But we’ll see what happens. I think everybody knows how we feel about it. It’s totally unfair playing up three classifications. That’s just insane.”

The WPIAL board on Monday approved alignments for all fall sports.

However, Warfield said the school was still preparing to take legal action against the PIAA and its competitive-balance rule in hopes of avoiding the promotion to Class 5A entirely.

The football team was forced up a classification after winning the PIAA Class 4A title in the fall. Aliquippa appealed the promotion, but the PIAA board voted last month to deny its request to remain in 4A.

“It’s settled as far as the PIAA is concerned, but it’s not settled as far as we’re concerned,” Warfield said. “We’re looking at other options.”

That school hasn’t yet filed a lawsuit but Warfield said one was in the works.

“We’re finalizing some things,” he said. “We just want to make sure all of the information is accurate and that we do our due diligence.”

What bothers Aliquippa most about the situation is that the school’s enrollment qualifies the team for Class 2A football. The Quips were voluntarily playing up in Class 3A when the PIAA adopted the competitive-balance rule in 2018.

That rule forced the Quips up to Class 4A in 2020 and now they’re headed to 5A. The rule targets football teams that had success in the state playoffs and added three or more transfers in a two-year span.

Most of the schools in Aliquippa’s new conference have three times as many boys.

The PIAA lists Aliquippa with 156 boys in grades 9-11, the years used to determine a school’s enrollment. Shaler is the next smallest with 448 boys. The others all have more than 500, topped by North Hills with 586.

They’re also not very close to Aliquippa. The shortest trip is a 19-mile ride to North Hills while the longest are 31 miles to Fox Chapel, 34 to Penn Hills and 40 to Plum.

Besides health and safety worries and a size-discrepancy among the schools, Warfield said he wonders why the WPIAL isn’t concerned about the added travel Aliquippa faces.

“How can you decline Farrell re-entering the WPIAL based on opponents saying the distance to Farrell is too far,” Warfield said. “But you have us traveling the same distance four to five times per year. It’s hypocrisy.”

While the competitive-balance rule was created by the PIAA, Warfield said he believed the WPIAL hadn’t provided the school with any real assistance.

“The WPIAL doesn’t do anything for us,” he said. “They portray themselves as helping us, assisting us, and they’re just a shadow of the PIAA. We’re not looking for assistance from them because they don’t give us any. Whichever way the PIAA wind blows, that’s where they blow.”

Chris Harlan is a TribLive reporter covering sports. He joined the Trib in 2009 after seven years as a reporter at the Beaver County Times. He can be reached at [email protected].

Tags: Aliquippa

2024-02-20 08:01:13
#WPIAL #reveals #Aliquippas #conference #football #coach #settled


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