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HARRISBURG – Legislation expected to be introduced later today would make landmark changes to the rules governing high school sports in Pennsylvania, including the creation of separate state playoffs for private and public schools.

Under House Bill 1600, all schools, public and private, would continue to compete against each other in regular season and district-level playoffs. But after the district playoffs, private schools would compete in one playoff and public schools in another. The champions in each of those playoffs would then compete in a final grand championship.

The change would only affect: football, baseball, softball, basketball, volleyball and soccer.

“This is the first time in 40 years that both sides have sat down in a non-adversarial tting to resolve these challenges and understand each other’s goals,” said state Rep. Aaron Bernstine, R-Lawrence County, the primary sponsor of the bill.

The plan has been endorsed by both the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference and a group of public school superintendents who began lobbying for changes to the playoff system last summer.

Bernstine was joined by representatives of the superintendents' group and the Catholic Conference Tuesday for a press conference announcing the proposal.

“House Bill 1600 will bring fairness to all student-athletes across the Commonwealth,” said Leonard Rich, superintendent of the Laurel School District in Lawrence County.

John Finnerty reports from the Harrisburg Bureau for The Meadville Tribune and other Pennsylvania newspapers owned by CNHI. Email him at jfinnerty@cnhi.com and follow him on Twitter @cnhipa.

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