LINCOLN PARK (KDKA) -A report by KD Investigator Andy Sheehan on Monday raised questions about the Lincoln Park Performing Arts School in Beaver County.
Are student-athletes switching schools for academic, or athletic, reasons?
Every morning at 6:15, Ryan Skovranko waits at a gas station in Duquesne for a school bus and the hour-long trip to Midland, Beaver County.
He’s a student at the Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School, but he isn’t a dancer, musician or interested in the theater.
Skovranko is pursuing a health and science major with the goal of becoming a sports trainer.
His main extra-curricular activity is starring on the basketball team.
However, his mother is adamant that’s not why he transferred from the West Mifflin School District.
“He liked everything they offered. We decided to apply and luckily he was accepted and he loves it there and it was one of the best decisions we ever made for him,” Christine Skovranko said.
Just five years in existence, the Lincoln Park basketball team has become a powerhouse through transfer students like Skovranko, who critics say are going to the school for non-academic reasons.
So far, 27 student-basketball players have transferred from their home school districts to Lincoln Park, which has caused consternation among athletic directors throughout the region.
Districts have contested eight transfers and the WPIAL review committee denied four, including Skovranko’s.
However, all but one of those decisions were overturned by the Pennsylvania Athletic Board, which allowed the transfers.
In fact, over the past few years, 90 percent of the student-athlete transfers denied by WPIAL have been overturned by the PIAA.
WPIAL Executive Director Tim O’Malley said the state is no longer enforcing its rule against non-academic transfers.
“It’s your rule and if you’re not going to enforce your own rule, then throw it out,” O’Malley said.
After the WPIAL board denied the transfer of star player B.J. Lipke from the Cornell School District to Lincoln Park, the state allowed it, ruling Lipke hadn’t transferred just to play basketball. Cornell Athletic Director Bill Sacco called the state hearing a farce.
“I’m not sure what that hearing does except make you travel halfway across the state for no reason because you already know what the answer is going to be,” Sacco said.
The WPIAL would like rules against non-academic transfers to be tightened, mandating that transfers play at the junior varsity level for their first year at the new school.
Just a few weeks ago, the state board rejected that rule change, saying transfers will be eligible to play varsity ball.
WPIAL vows to keep fighting, even if that fight is an uphill one.