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WPIAL Thwarted In Blocking Athletic Transfers

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(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Andy Sheehan Andy Sheehan
KDKA-TV Investigator Andy Sheehan began his broadcast journalism...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — They’re extremely talented young athletes – football standouts and basketball stars – who left their home school districts and now play for other schools.

Have they been recruited? And did they transfer with athletic intent?

In the case of the Lincoln Park Performing Arts School basketball team, competing athletic directors say yes.

“They’re there basically to play basketball and that’s the idea,” says Bill Sacco, of the Cornell School District.

In five short years, 31 basketball players have transferred into Lincoln Park making it a powerhouse, and the WPIAL Board denied four of those transfers.

However, three of those decisions were overturned by the state board – allowing transfers like star forward Ryan Skovranko – to play.

Now, every morning a bus picks up Skovranko in his hometown of Duquesne for the hour-long ride to Beaver County.

WPIAL Executive Director Tim O’Malley says the state board has thwarted WPIAL attempts to maintain a level field and it’s not fair to its member schools.

“It’s not fair to the schools that have athletes from their own district, and who grew up in their district, to play against those that don’t,” he says. “That have athletes come in from outside at a competitive disadvantage to them.”

In fact, in the past four years, 38 transfers denied by the WPIAL Board were appealed to the PIAA, which promptly overturned 30 of them. One recent case was that of Ricky Rodgers, a star wide receiver whose family moved from the Keystone Oaks School District for Gateway High School.

“It was the opinion, the majority opinion of the board, that there was an athletic motivation to that move and voted that way,” O’Malley said.

Again the state board overturned the WPIAL decision to the relief of Rodgers mother, Cheryl Sandora, who maintains the move was not made for athletic reasons.

“It just wasn’t the right fit for him,” she said. “So, we knew were going to move from the district.”

She said her son, who is also a dancer and a model, moved to Monroeville to be closer to his dance instructor and to escape teasing at Keystone Oaks. She said the WPIAL presented no evidence to refute that.

“They just kept saying he’s too high-profile of an athlete to go to a school that has a high profile program,” said Sandora.

“Obviously, their response to what was shared there was different from what was shared here,” O’Malley said.

The same cases, different rulings, and the WPIAL Board is now tired of spinning its wheels.

So, they’ve summoned the new director the PIAA next week here to hash it out, and establish some consistency in enforcing the transfer rule.

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