How Will PIAA State Bids be Allotted Under the New Six-Class System?



By Jacob Gill
Pennsylvania Assistant Director of Scouting

The Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) recently released its classification report for a new six-class system (up from four classes) to determine state champions. While there will be (and, no doubt, already have been) plenty who decry that the Keystone state is going to hell in a handbasket because "everyone gets a trophy," this system will be the new reality in Pennsylvania beginning with the 2016-17 school year. The point of this article is not to debate the relative merits of the system, but to look at what affect it could have on the post-season landscape.

On Tuesday, we looked at some noteworthy reclassifications. Today, we will examine possibilities for how many state tournament bids will be allotted per district (the PIAA has yet to release that information), with an occasional unique thought as to how to maintain equity of bids. Based on the number of teams per classification, a completely equitable distribution would have one bid for every seven teams in a district (16 bids per class from a group of 109-112 schools per class).

Again, to be very clear, what follows below is for entertainment and food-for-thought purposes only. The PIAA has not, to our knowledge, released the official bid assignments. See the map below, taken from the PIAA website, for a geographical breakdown of districts.

PIAA District Map

Note: Use of WPIAL below refers to District VII and select District VIII schools that complete in the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League during the regular- and post-season. We have assumed that District VIII schools that do not compete in the WPIAL will continue to be slotted in sub-regions with District IX, as has been the PIAA's practice.

Class 6A

District I II III IV V VI VII VIII IX X XI XII
Schools 35 3 21 1 - 3 18 1 - 1 14 12


How we'd do it
District I (35 teams) - 5 bids
Sub-Region II/IV/VI/X (8 teams) - 1 bid
District III (21 teams) - 3 bids
WPIAL (19 teams) - 3 bids
District XI (14 teams) - 2 bids
District XII (12 teams) - 2 bids

Rationale
The biggest conundrum here is what to do with the districts that have three or less teams. Our solution would be to have the four teams in Districts II/IV play a pre-sub-regional, the four teams in Districts VI/X play a pre-sub-regional, and have the two winners vie for the final state bid. The pitfall of this plan is that the proposed sub-region essentially spans the entirety of northern PA, which could create a scenario in which McDowell out of District X (northwest corner of state) plays a team from District II (northeast corner of state), necessitating a neutral site game in which both teams drive a significant distance.

One alternative would be to have McDowell participate with District VII for geography purposes (which would create a 7-team, 1-bid District II/IV/VI sub-region), although we are not sure if that would violate the sanctity of the WPIAL tournament, and, therefore, eliminate it as a possibility.

If minimizing potential travel is one of the PIAA's primary directives, it could choose to award one bid each to the proposed 4-team II/IV and VI/X sub-regions and siphon one bid away from another district, although it is not immediately obvious which district that would be.

Finally, given that 12-13 of the state bids in this classification will come from the eastern half of the state, the PIAA will have to determine which berths get slotted on the "western" side of the bracket. One option is to have the three District III teams and one from District I join the WPIAL and proposed sub-region. Another would be to have 1-2 teams from each of Districts I, III, XI, and XII jump over, as is customary in the current 4A.

Class 5A

District I II III IV V VI VII VIII IX X XI XII
Schools 28 8 29 - - 2 19 3 1 3 5 13


How we'd do it
District I (28 teams) - 4 bids
District II (8 teams) - 1 bid
District III (29 teams) - 4 bids
Sub-Region VI/VIII/IX/X (7 teams) - 1 bid
WPIAL (21 teams) - 3 bids
District XI (5 teams) - 1 bid
District XII (12 teams) - 2 bids

Rationale
This classification appears pretty straight-forward.  As with 6A, twelve of the bids will come from the eastern half of the state.  If geography is the primary driver, it would seem to make the most sense for District III to join the WPIAL and the sub-region on the western half of the bracket. Otherwise, our guess is that 1-2 teams from each of Districts I, III, and XII would slide over.

Class 4A

District I II III IV V VI VII VIII IX X XI XII
Schools 5 8 22 10 2 3 24 - 4 13 9 11


How we'd do it
District I (5 teams) - 1 bid
District II (8 teams) - 1 bid
District III (22 teams) - 3 bids
District IV (10 teams) - 2 bids
Sub-Region V/VI/IX (9 teams) - 1 bid
WPIAL (24 teams) - 3 bids
District X (13 teams) - 2 bids
District XI (9 teams) - 1 bid
District XII (11 teams) - 2 bids 

Rationale
The importance of simplicity should not be dismissed, so the most likely path here is to form a sub-region from the three districts with the fewest schools, which just happen to border each other north-to-south in the west central portion of the state. Equity of bids is probably the lowest here among all the classifications, but maintaining the purity of determining a district (as opposed to sub-region) champion should be a goal, when possible, for larger districts.

Only six bids in this class would come from the western side of the state under this scenario. The PIAA could choose to move both District IV reps, or one from District IV and one from District III, from the eastern side to the western half.

Class 3A

District I II III IV V VI VII VIII IX X XI XII
Schools 1 13 14 9 2 15 21 1 2 10 9 15


How we'd do it
Sub-Region I/XII (16 teams) - 2 bids
District II (13 teams) - 2 bids
District III (14 teams) - 2 bids
District IV (9 teams) - 1 bid
Sub-Region V/VI (17 teams) - 2 bids
WPIAL (21 teams) - 3 bids
Sub-Region VIII/IX/X (13 teams) - 2 bids
District XI (9 teams) - 1 bid

Rationale
For those of you who don't trust our math and are counting along, you noticed that's only 15 bids. There's no obvious place to dole out the 16th spot. One option would simply be to give it to the V/VI sub-region, as it is the largest two-bid grouping. However, here's what we'd like to see: a modified sub-region for the two one-bid districts, in which the district runners-up face off for the final state berth. From a pure equity standpoint, one bid for nine teams is the worst ratio in this class. All other districts/sub-regions in the class will send both championship game participants to the big dance. This scenario would allow one final opportunity for the one-bid district title game participants to earn their way just the same.

If the V/VI sub-region is granted a third bid, the geographic breakdown would have eight eastern and eight western schools, so no reshuffling necessary. If our modified sub-region proposal is employed, the District IV champ would slot in on the western side of the bracket.

Class 2A

District I II III IV V VI VII VIII IX X XI XII
Schools 6
7
9
11
5
11
24
1
9
14
8
7


How we'd do it
District I (6 teams) - 1 bid
District II (7 teams) - 1 bid
District III (9 teams) - 1 bid
District IV (11 teams) - 2 bids
District V (5 teams) - 1 bid
District VI (11 teams) - 2 bids
WPIAL (24 teams) - 3 bids
Sub-Region VIII/IX (10 teams) - 1 bid
District X (14 teams) - 2 bids
District XI (8 teams) - 1 bid
District XII (7 teams) - 1 bid

Rationale
Sometimes, a line of demarcation has to be drawn. There clearly isn't much difference in size between districts that have eleven teams (two bids) and districts that have nine or ten (one bid), but the math works this way.

In this scenario, one team from the eastern side of the state would have to slide onto the western half of the bracket, likely resulting in a first round match-up of either District V against District III or one of the District VI reps against one of the District IV reps.

Class 1A

District I II III IV V VI VII VIII IX X XI XII
Schools 10
3
12
10
12
13
22
-
16
2
7
4


How we'd do it
Sub-Region I/XII (14 teams) - 2 bids
Sub-Region II/IV (13 teams) - 2 bids
District III (12 teams) - 2 bids
District V (12 teams) - 2 bids
District VI (13 teams) - 2 bids
WPIAL (22 teams) - 3 bids
Sub-Region IX/X (18 teams) - 2 bids
District XI (7 teams) - 1 bid

Rationale
Admittedly, this is not likely to be how things shake out, as we surmise that District XII will get its own bid. However, we have been using five teams as the cut-off for a district not needing to form a sub-region, so we'll continue with that line-of-thought here.

Another option would be for District II to form its sub-region with District XI, creating two 1-bid, 10-team groupings (District IV and Sub-Region II/XI). Our reason for shying away from that plan is that there is only one other instance from the other five classifications where a district or sub-region that has ten or more teams only gets one bid, so, avoiding two instances of that here (or, three, if Districts I and XII are kept separate) seems like the way to go.

One team from the western side of the state will need to slot into the eastern half of the bracket. That team could theoretically come from any of the multi-bid western districts or sub-region.

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