The Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League threatened to hold Greensburg (Pa.) Central Catholic High's boys' basketball team out of the playoffs if the school doesn't suspend its coach for bumping an official, according to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette report.
Except, footage from a local television broadcast appears to clear the Centurions coach.
The WPIAL ruled Monday that Greensburg Central Catholic coach Greg Bisignani bumped official Mike Tucci after a 66-63 loss to McKeesport (Pa.) on Jan. 18 and issued stiff penalties after another official and two seemingly unbiased area administrators -- North Catholic athletic director Mike Burrell and Gateway principal Bill Short -- reportedly corroborated Tucci's claim that an irate Bisignani made contact with him.
"We have no jurisdiction over personnel at schools," WPIAL executive director Tim O'Malley told the Post-Gazette, placing Bisignani's team on probation through 2014-15 and recommending he attend a coaching seminar. "That's a district issue. But we do have jurisdiction over schools. Greensburg Central can do what they want. But if they choose not to follow our directive, then they will be kept out of the postseason."
The WPIAL is reportedly demanding a three-game suspension. Seems a bit harsh once you watch Westmoreland Sports Network's video of the alleged incident.
While Bisignani can be seen expressing his displeasure to the official on the tape (Tucci told the WPIAL that Bisignani shouted, "you'll never work another GCC game again; you need to let the kids determine the game”), the coach attempts to avoid contact with Tucci, who backs up awkwardly in Bisignani's direction as he tries to enter the handshake line and greet McKeesport's players -- all of which he told the WPIAL at Monday's hearing.
“There was no contact,” Bisignani said via TribLive.com. “Absolutely no contact.”
A third official reportedly even backed Bisignani. However, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Tucci, who has been refereeing for more than three decades, countered by telling the local high school athletics governing body that the incident has "affected me horribly. I have a very uncomfortable feeling as soon as I step on the floor."
The North Catholic AD reportedly sent a letter informing the WPIAL of the incident, which took place during the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Seton Hill University earlier this month. Bisignani's Centurions (14-2) defeated North Catholic by 22 points on Dec. 28.
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