October 15, 2013
A glance at the handbook of any statewide high school athletic association informs you that transfers have been the most problematic eligibility issue across the country over the years. In the MHSAA Handbook there are 12 high school athletic eligibility regulations covered over 25 pages, and one-fourth of these pages are devoted to one rule: the transfer regulation.
The MHSAA’s transfer rule casts a broad net over the turbulent waters of school sports . . .
Waters stirred by the inherent nature of athletics where people often look for competitive advantage, and sometimes look for it in inappropriate places;
- Waters made more choppy by the domestic discord in which increasing numbers of students reside; and
- Waters made rougher still by economic hardships in which more families seem trapped.
Add to this bullying, cyber bullying and hazing from which students seek to escape, and transfers seem epidemic.
Because the transfer regulation catches some “fish” in its wide net that it should not snare, schools have a mechanism to request waivers from the Executive Committee. Last school year, 352 waiver requests were made and 265 were approved.
It is readily admitted that the net fails to snatch some fish that it should catch and withhold from competition for a semester or longer. The most obvious and egregious of those occur when a student changes schools for reasons related to sports and without compelling medical or family reasons. More of those will be snared beginning in 2014-15, and those that are will face a period of ineligibility that is twice as long as other students who are ineligible under the basic transfer rule.
The new rule (click here and go to Appendix B in the Summary of RC Action) links extended ineligibility after a transfer to certain activities before the transfer. If a student played high school sports during the previous 12 months and did one of the “linking” activities to the new school, and if that student is ineligible for one semester under the basic transfer rule (none of the 15 automatic exceptions applies), then the period of ineligibility is doubled in the sport in which the links exist: two semesters instead of one.
This is not the end of the story, but merely the next chapter to develop and administer a transfer rule that facilitates quick eligibility for more deserving situations and extended ineligibility for more athletic related changes.