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May 20, 1998
Contact: John Johnson or Mike Clifford 517.332.5046

Transfer Regulations Modified To Allow Sub-Varsity Eligibility At
Spring Representative Council Meeting

EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Changes in the transfer rule to allow immediately eligibility for more students, and several football measures related to playoffs and end-of-game procedures were among the actions taken by the Representative Council of the Michigan High School Athletic Association at its Spring meeting, May 3-5, in Thompsonville.

The Spring meeting of the 19-member legislative body of the Association's 1,300-plus member schools is usually the busiest of its three sessions each year. The Council considered 32 sport committee proposals and discussed a number of eligibility and procedural issues.

Perhaps the biggest change to the MHSAA's transfer rules comes in new authority being bestowed upon its Executive Committee to grant, on a case-by-case basis, immediate eligibility at the sub-varsity level for transferring ninth or tenth grade students who have not previously participated in any sport at the high school level and who do not qualify for one of the 15 exceptions to the transfer regulation, and have transferred for reasons having nothing to do with athletics, discipline or family finances. This procedure would also not require that the Executive Committee evaluate or compare school demographics or curriculum. Eligibility at the varsity level for student-athletes afforded sub-varsity eligibility could not occur until the applicable period of ineligibility expires.

A second transfer regulation was modified impacting students transferring from home schools to MHSAA member schools. In order for a home-schooled student to be immediately eligible at his or her new school as a result of attending the last grade available in that home school or the home school ceasing to operate, the student must have begun attendance at the home school at least 270 calendar days earlier and have been in continuous enrollment. The transfer is allowed with immediate eligibility one time only.

The Council also considered a regulation which would have addressed transfers by student-athletes seeking to escape ineligibilities imposed by their former schools for academic deficiencies or athletic code violations. The Council ordered the MHSAA staff to develop a model policy for local school districts' consideration and adoption.

Football matters were highlighted by a Council vote to go on record as favoring expansion to the Association's annual Football Playoffs. The vote came in response to a recent survey of member school superintendents and principals in which 72 percent of 520 responses indicated a desire to expand the 128-team football playoff field. In that same survey, only 40 percent of the superintendents and principals surveyed favored starting the regular season a week earlier; and only 50.5 percent favored using the ninth week of the season as a playoff game. The most recent playoff expansion in 1990 was accomplished without changing the regular-season calendar, but by doubling the number of classifications.

The Council rejected an expansion proposal which would have qualified 512 schools for the playoffs, dubbed "Proposal 16." Proposal 16 would have required that the regular season begin a week earlier and that the ninth week of the season be used as a playoff game. The Council directed the MHSAA staff to develop plans and rationale for expansion for consideration at its next meeting, December 2, at Acme.

Other football actions taken at the meeting will require that all varsity football contests utilize the tie-breaking overtime procedures published in the National Federation of State High School Associations rule book. Previously, the overtime procedure was an option employed by many leagues and conferences, and also used for many non-league game, but was not required. Sub-varsity contests are not required to utilize the tie-breaker. Procedures for administration of the "mercy rule," which allows for a running clock after a 35-point differential is reached in the score during the season have, were also streamlined.

Here is a summary of other actions taken at the Spring Representative Council Meeting:

Cooperative Programs In All Sports Involving Class A and B Schools Have Renewal Process Modified. In all sports in which Class A and B schools are involved in cooperative programs, the renewal process will require league approval; tryout procedures and participation numbers will be monitored; and all materials sent to schools for both new agreements and renewals will communicate the preference for cooperative programs to split into separate teams as participation numbers grow.

Quoting MHSAA Associate Director Jerry Cvengros - "Cooperative programs have had a positive effect in stimulating growth of teams where school teams have not previously existed. However, there has been a growing concern that cooperative programs involving schools of larger enrollments could actually be excluding more student-athletes than two separate teams might include. Another concern is the disporportionaly talent pool that a cooperative program might have. These renewal options are intended to maintain a level playing field between cooperative and traditional programs."

The Executive Committee was given authority to waive the reclassification of a cooperative program in sports involving only Class D schools where only a few students are participating from the cooperating school, as opposed to the host school. The cooperating school must not have sponsored the sport for at least three years, and league support is required. The cooperative program would be classified by the enrollment of the host school only.

Quoting Jerry Cvengros - "There are situations where a cooperative program could exist but doesn't because the primary school doesn't want to move up in classification because it is accepting so few student-athletes from the cooperating school. This would allow more students the possibility of participation, but not potentially penalize a school with small numbers by moving it up a class."

The Spring sports season will have its first practice date delayed by one week, beginning in 1999; and schools will be surveyed regarding committee proposals related to their tournament calendars. The second Monday after March 1 will become the new date on which practices in all Spring sports may commence, which is the week after girls volleyball regionals and boys basketball districts. In 1999, that date will be March 15. The Representative Council also ordered surveys in two Spring sports - girls soccer, and track and field, which would determine interest in delaying the former sport's tournament by one week, the latter's by two weeks.

Quoting MHSAA Executive Director John E. "Jack" Roberts - "Delaying the beginning of Spring practice will be welcome news to many athletic directors around the state who have discussed and expressed a desire for the change for several years. It will help alleviate what has become a very congested gymnasium situation with winter and spring sports overlapping their seasons. Given the number of activities in which students are involved at the end of the school year, the Council felt that direct input from schools was necessary to evaluate sport committee proposals to delay these two spring tournaments, which were new proposals this year."

In basketball, a mercy rule will be implemented in 1998-99. At all levels of all regular-season and MHSAA tournament basketball games, a running clock will become mandatory when one team has a 40-point lead, with the condition that the running clock will revert to regular timekeeping procedures when the lead is reduced to 30 or fewer points. This will require that the MHSAA apply to the National Federation to experiment with this rules modification.

Quoting MHSAA Assistant Director Nate Hampton - "There are still a number of games taking place where score differentials are out of control, in spite of school's best efforts to keep scores down. Going to a running clock may help achieve an earlier end to lopsided contests."

Advanced the starting times of the girls basketball final sessions; and realigned the semifinal session playing order. All sessions of the MHSAA Girls Basketball Finals will begin one hour earlier in 1998. The Class D-A finals session will begin at 11 a.m. (EST), and the Class C-B session will begin at 5 p.m. Additionally, the semifinal order of sessions has been realigned to match that of the boys' semifinals, with Class C semis on Thursday afternoon; Class D Thursday evening; Class A Friday afternoon; and Class B Friday evening.

In soccer, schools will be allowed to compete in one-day, multi-team tournaments and count as only one of their 18 regular-season contests. Twice during the regular season on non-school days, a school could participate in a one-day, multi-team tournament and have it count as only one of its allowed contests. Schools would be limited to 180 minutes of playing time, and overtime games will not be allowed. Any individual who plays in such a multi-team tournament may only play in one additional game that week.

Quoting MHSAA Assistant Director Suzanne Martin - "Schools will use these multi-team tournaments primarily as an early-season opportunity to see their teams against a number other squads, and to look at more players than they might have under normal scheduling conditions. The limited number of minutes available will also keep these tournaments from becoming all day events."

In other actions, the Council acted on the request of superintendents in Kent County to survey school superintendents, principals and athletic directors this spring regarding the possibility of having all high school seasons align with the collegiate seasons in those sports; approved a measure to allow pep bands at MHSAA basketball semifinals and finals for the first time since 1955; approved a soccer committee request to locate the Boys Soccer Final sites in closer proximity to each other and stagger the starting times to enable more fans to watch games at both sites (pending the availability of sites); and established a committee to review the current MHSAA policy regarding the participating of Upper Peninsula schools in statewide tournaments.

The Council also reviewed reports on cooperative programs, of which 117 exist at the high school level, and 38 at the junior high/middle school level; eligibility advancement applications, which numbered 41 for 1997-98; school violations; attendance at athletic director and coaches in-service workshops; on a record 11,125 officials being registered; rules meeting attendance; officials reports submitted for the past three sports seasons; training and awards activities for officials during April; the growth of the MHSAA Web Site; and the results of a survey conducted of member school students regarding their interest in different sports. The Association's $5.8 million budget for the 1998-99 school year was also approved.

The Representative Council is the 19-member legislative body of the MHSAA. All but five members are elected by member schools. Four members are appointed by the Council to facilitate representation of females and minorities; and the 19th position is occupied by the Superintendent of Public Instruction or designee.

The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by over 1,300 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments conducted in 12 sports for boys and 12 sports for girls which attract approximately 1.3 million spectators each year.