Controversy surfaced late in the recently completed football season.

In mid-November, after playing a full season for Notre Dame High in Lawrenceville, N.J., 6-4, 250-pound lineman Tom Burns transferred to Conwell-Egan and played in two playoff games for the Eagles.

With the aid of the junior offensive guard and defensive end, the Eagles ousted District 11's Palisades, 34-17, in a PIAA Class 3A state quarterfinal on Nov. 25 at Northeast.

Burns' showing drew the ire of Palisades and its supporters, who were upset that Burns was eligible by PIAA rules to play for a second school in the same season after such a short turnaround.

District 11 chairman and Whitehall High athletic director Bob Hartman addressed the late transfer with the PIAA but was told that it did not violate any rule.

Burns' transfer was approved via principal-to-principal signoff, said District 12 vice chairman and Archbishop Wood athletic director Joe Sette, and it was deemed that it had not been motivated by athletic reasons.

Conwell-Egan head coach Jack Techtmann (left) and his players.
CHARLES FOX
Conwell-Egan head coach Jack Techtmann (left) and his players.

Conwell-Egan head coach Jack Techtmann said Burns was only required to participate in three practices before being allowed to play in a game. He added that the lineman lives in nearby Yardley and played youth football with many of his new teammates.

Burns and the Eagles came up one win short of reaching Hershey, as they bowed to District 3's Middletown, 49-7, in a Dec. 2 semifinal at West Chester Rustin.

While Burns' late arrival for a second team was not a violation of PIAA rules, the move justifiably angered many. His playing days at Conwell-Egan should not have started until the 2018 season.

Now, in a positive development, the PIAA has approved a modified amendment to its guidelines for in-season transfers by instituting a mandatory 21-day period of ineligibility, beginning in the 2018-19 school year for all sports. It was cleared on a third and final reading in a meeting of the board of directors on Dec. 6.

Serious talk of putting some teeth into PIAA's rule for in-season transfers began well before Burns switched schools and teams. It became a hot-button topic when Micah Parsons, a standout defensive end and five-star recruit, according to 247Sports, transferred from District 3's Central Dauphin to Commonweath Division rival and neighboring Harrisburg in the middle of the 2016 season.

Behind the 6-3, 235-pound Parsons, who doubled as a bruising running back and may commit to rumored favorite Penn State on Wednesday, Harrisburg advanced to last year's Class 5A state final before being crushed by Wood, 37-10.

Sette said discussion of possible amendments to the mandatary 21-day period of ineligibility (New Jersey has a 30-day waiting period) will likely happen in meetings over the next six months.

"We're going to have to talk about some scenarios surrounding a transfer that could make a student-athlete eligible right away," he said. "There could be, for example, a hardship provision."

Moving on

Chas Cathers has stepped down as head football coach at Central Bucks West to become the athletic director at Central Bucks South.

Cathers guided C.B. West to a 13-18 record in three seasons. This year, the Bucks went 6-5 overall, 3-4 in the Suburban One League Continental Conference, and qualified for the PIAA District 1 Class 6A playoffs.

Cathers' appointment was approved by the Central Bucks School District, and he will begin his new position on Jan. 29.

Extra points

St. Joseph's Prep head coach Gabe Infante was selected as one of six finalists for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl coach of the year honors. … St. Joe's Prep senior safety DeJuan Dandrige was offered a scholarship by Rhode Island on Wednesday. …  Rutgers offered scholarships to up-and-coming Malvern Prep juniors Keith Maguire and Jake Hornibrook on Tuesday. Maguire, a 6-2, 215-pound linebacker who was voted the Inter-Ac League's most valuable player, also has offers from Baylor, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, and Virginia, among others. Hornibrook, a 6-4, 270-pound offensive lineman, also has multiple Division I offers … Germantown Academy senior defensive lineman Jack D'Ambrosio (6-0, 270) will continue his career at Wesleyan.