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PIAA at its worst

April 8, 2010 - Chris Masse

In my previous blog entitled "PIAA goes silent" I talked about how the PIAA had not yet even responded to Mansfield principal Denise Drabick after the Tigers were victimized by a horrible officiating mistake that potentially might have cost them a shot at winning a Class A state championship.

Here's the quick rundown for those of you who do not know what happened: 

In the final 30 seconds of an overtime Class A second-round state tournament game, Mansfield trailed Lebanon Catholic 49-47 as the Beavers prepared to inbound the ball. A DVD of the game that can be seen on my previous blog discussing this game, clearly shows that Catholic has the inbounder plus five players on the court as the play starts to unfold. 5+1=6 and only five players are allowed on the court and yet a trio referees, whose first responsibility is to make sure the right number of players are on the court, missed it. As the footage shows, six Beavers continued playing for approximately eight seconds before the sixth sneaks back to the bench after his coach realizes the blunder they created. What should have happened is a technical foul against Catholic, resulting in Mansfield shooting two free throws and having possession with 12 seconds remaining. What happened instead was point guard Patrick Cummings was forced to foul and because it was his fifth he had to leave the game. Michael Wolfe then hit two foul shots that he should have never had and Catholic won, 51-47.

Drabick wrote a letter seeking explanation and finally after two weeks she was finally graced with a response.

A pathetic one.

The PIAA basically gives everyone involved in this sports travesty that might have ruined the dreams of hard-working players a free pass and does not even acknowledge a mistake was made, refusing to look at the indisputable evidence Drabick offered to provide and that is available on this web site on my previous blog. Click on that footage and you can clearly see the inbounder plus five more players on the court. Again, 5+1=6.

The Sun-Gazette was sent a letter written by PIAA Excecutive Director Bradley Cashman to Drabick. What I will do here is include excerpts of that letter and then convey the actual facts that the PIAA convienently seems to want to avoid tackling.

Cashman writes: "you (Drabick) allege in overtime, with about 30 seconds to play,...Lebanon Catholic had six players on the court. WRONG: She does not allege this. It's a fact. Look at the footage Mr. Cashman. It's indisputable. There were six players on the court as clear as night and day.

In the next paragraph Cashman writes: "you have not asserted that there was a persistent bias by the officiating crew throughout the contest for that it was otherwise unfairly officiated."

Well of course she didn't. That's not the issue and that is not what Drabick is arguing. What she and the Mansfield community are furious about is that the most basic of rules was violated and yet nothing happened, (the officials did not even take the time to consult or to explain things to Mansfield coach Kipper Burleigh who was pleading for them to do so), costing them a chance to potentially win the game. By that logic as long as the referees are not biased horrible and basic calls that impact the game's outcome are acceptable. Is the PIAA serious?

Cashman continues: "Mr. Carr (the PIAA appointed contest manager) informed me that, although he was watching the contest,  he did not observe the alleged sixth player for Lebanon Catholic on the floor during the overtime period; 2) he was not aware that there was a concern being raised by Mansfield Junior/Senior High School until after he delivered the advance sale tickets for the next contest to Lebanon Catholic and departed the premises."

Okay, first of all just because Carr did not see it means it didn't happen, right PIAA? WRONG: Look at the footage Mr. Cashman. It's indisputable. Six players were on the court. Second, this reporter learned that Mansfield was seeking a potential protest moments after the game's conclusion and well before both Mansfield players and coaches exited the premises so alleging that Mansfield did not raise this issue afterward is untrue. Again, look at the footage and you will see both players and fans pointing to the court and shouting about six players being on the floor as the sequence unfolds and in the seconds after the sixth player snuck to the bench.

This next part is where it really gets laughable: "(The three referees), each independent of the other, informed me that 1, they always count the number of players on the floor before putting the ball in play; 2, on an inbounds situation, their count always begins with the in-bounder, and 3, if there are more than 10 players (five on each side) on the floor, they use preventative officiating by not permitting the ball to be placed into play until the situation is remedied.

Well guess what PIAA? They counted wrong this time. Again, look at the footage. It cannot be any clearer that there is the inbounder plus five other Lebanon Catholic players on the court...and yet this was missed. But judging by Cashman's response, since the trio of referees know the rules that must mean they didn't botch it in this instance, right? WRONG: Check the footage. They messed up big-time.

It gets even more laughable: "As a relevant illustrationg of this mechanic, (one of the referees) relayed to me during our conversation that, earlier in the contest, Mansfield had a substitute situation in which it had six players on the floor. The restart of the contest was delayed by the officials until the situation was remedied."

Well, congratulations, PIAA, your officials did the right thing in that instance and correctly made sure one team did not have six players on the court. But what does that above paragraph have to do with how they screwed up later in the game? It's like the PIAA is trying to excuse the officials for messing up at one of the most critical points of the game by saying that earlier in the game they did it right. Unreal. Again...look at the footage and you will see, Mr. Cashman, that they blatantly missed six players on the court for Lebanon Catholic during game-play.

It gets worse: "(An official) informed me that, prior to the aforementioned foul on a Mansfield player, he observed out of the corner of his eye a Lebanon Catholic player sitting down on his team's bench. However, it was his belief at the time that the player may have been returning to his seat after spontaneously responding to a play situation on the court."

Uh no. As the footage clearly shows, he ran off the floor after his coach realized they had six players on the court to avoid the technical foul.

And yet it gets worse: "I was also informed by all three officials that the chairs that comprise the respective team benches are very close to the sideline on the court at Danville Area High School. As a result, players may inadvertently step onto and, subsequently off the court, giving the appearance of more players being on the court than permitted by rule."

Uh, fine. But guess what Mr. Cashman? While that might be the case that has nothing to do with what transpired. Again, look at the footage and you see that there clearly are six players on the court at the same time for approximately eight seconds.

It's all on film and is as clear as night and day and it's as if the PIAA is trying to make every excuse imaginable to say that maybe this did not happen. Guess what PIAA? did happen and it's obvious if you would just look at the footage.

This is the part that is really ridiculous. "Finally, I have reviewed the written report from the PIAA-assigned basketball observer/evaluator for that contest, in which (he) awarded the officiating crew a very favorable rating. He relevantly observed that "the crew constantly counted players on substitutions and quarters" and had "good game control" Specific to the incident he wrote "in overtime period Mansfield questioned that Lebanon Catholic had six players on the floor. From where I was I couldn't see this."

Well, all that means Mr. Cashman, is that your evaluator, just like the trio of game officials, missed the most basic of rules being violated. Maybe the trio did count before the incident took place...but if that's the case than they blatantly miscounted and got it wrong. LOOK AT THE FOOTAGE!

What's done is done. Mansfield might have been robbed of a state championship run by incompetence and yet the PIAA nor the officials involved will not admit that a horrible mistake was made. That is beyond pathetic. The outcome cannot be reversed, Mansfield understands that. Mistakes happen. This was a bad one but they happen because we are humans and we are not perfect.

This blatant mistake was caught on film and yet the PIAA nor those involved will accept blame, responsibility or apologize. It's as if they think if they all just stick together and not look at the footage then maybe people might start to believe that six players were not on the court.

WRONG...and the footage proves it.

That in mind, the right thing, the decent thing for the PIAA and the officials involved in this situation would be to look at the footage, admit they were wrong and apologize. Then it would be case closed, in my opinion.

My question now to all those parties is this--have you no decency?






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