September 8, 2011
The athletic eligibility transfer regulation adopted by MHSAA member schools, which states that all transfer students are ineligible for approximately one semester unless the student’s situation meets one of 15 stated exceptions, is an imperfect tool. It’s a wide and generally effective net that nevertheless catches some student transfers it should not and misses some transfers it should catch.
To release those students who should not have been snared there is a procedure by which schools may request a waiver from the MHSAA Executive Committee. During the 2010-11 school year, 320 requests to waive the transfer regulation were made by schools, and 219 waivers were approved by the Executive Committee.
The most troublesome aspect of the transfer regulation is that it does not stop or penalize all transfers that are primarily for athletic reasons. If a student is eligible under one of the stated exceptions, that student is immediately eligible regardless of the motivation behind the change of schools.
If, however, a student changes schools and that student’s circumstances do not meet one of the 15 stated exceptions that would provide immediate eligibility, there is a provision by which the school which lost the student may challenge that the change was primarily for athletic reasons. If that school alleges that this was an athletic-motivated transfer and documents its allegations on a timely basis, the MHSAA is authorized to investigate. If the MHSAA agrees, the student is ineligible for an additional semester.
The school which lost the student has the keys in its pocket. By rule, only that school can start the process.
The mere presence of this provision has discouraged many athletic-motivated transfers; and the more it is utilized, the more it will discourage these most troublesome transfers.