Thomas FitzSimons High is back in football business.

In an appeal hearing Saturday, the PIAA's board of directors voted to alter penalties meted out by District 12.

On Oct. 17, after twice being found guilty of rules violations, FitzSimons' season was halted and the program was shut down through the 2008 season. Also, coach Irv Sigler was banned from coaching any sport through the 2010 school year.

Brad Cashman, the PIAA's executive director, said yesterday the school can resume playing football next fall, and that Sigler will again be allowed to coach.

The appeal was upheld, he added, because the board recognized that all key FitzSimons figures - principal Darryl Overton, athletic director Evan Scott, Sigler, his assistants - were new to their jobs and deserved a second chance.

The program and Sigler are now on probation for 2 years.

"If the coach messes up again, he'll be suspended for 3 years," Cashman said. "No hearing on that."

Overall, Cashman said he thought the directors' decision made sense. "You hate to see the kids penalized because of mistakes made by the adults." *

- Ted Silary