Tougher Rules for Transfers

May 31, 2013

There is an increased sense among the MHSAA’s constituents that it’s nearly impossible to advance deeply into the MHSAA’s postseason tournaments with “home grown” talent; that unless a team receives an influx of 9th-graders from other districts or transfers of 10th-, 11th- and 12th-graders from other schools, success in MHSAA tournaments is rare.

This is the predictable result of several factors, including (1) expanding schools of choice; (2) starving school districts of essential resources; (3) encircling schools with educational options; and (4) increasing dependence on nonfaculty coaches and the related increased profile of non-school youth sports programs.

In light of this, Michigan’s high school wrestling coaches and, more recently, Michigan’s high school basketball coaches, have proposed new rules and/or pled with MHSAA leadership to toughen the transfer rules for school-based programs.

On May 5, 2013, the MHSAA adopted a rule to take effect starting Aug. 1, 2014, that advocates believe is more straightforward than the athletic motivated section of the transfer regulation and is a needed next step to address increasing mobility of students between schools.  It links certain described activities to a longer period of ineligibility after a transfer.  It intends to catch some of the most overt and egregious of transfers for athletic reasons.

Specifically, after a student has played on a team at one high school and transfers to another where he or she is ineligible, the period of ineligibility is extended to 180 scheduled school days if, during the previous 12 months, this student . . .

  • Participated at an open gym at the high school to which the student has transferred.
  • Participated on a non-school team coached by any of the coaches at the high school to which the student has transferred.
  • Has a personal sport trainer, conditioner or instructor who is a coach at the high school to which the student has transferred.
  • Transfers to a school where his or her previous high school coach is now employed.

Unlike Section 9(E), this new Section 9(F) does not require one school to allege athletic motivation.  If the MHSAA learns from any source that any one of the four athletic related links, the MHSAA shall impose ineligibility for 180 scheduled school days.

There may be a large percentage of the MHSAA’s constituents who do not believe this new Section 9(F) goes far enough; that this should be applied to all students, not merely those whose transfer does not fit one of the 15 stated exceptions which allows for immediate eligibility.  That could become the MHSAA’s next step in fighting one of the most aggravating problems of school-based sports today.

Cheering for Sportsmanship

July 31, 2018

(This blog first appeared on on January 8, 2013.)

I try to start each new school year at the Michigan Interscholastic Press Association summer camp at Michigan State University. I talk briefly about who the MHSAA is and what it does; and then two or three dozen high school newspaper editors and writers ask me questions; and in doing so, they give me clues to what’s going on in our schools and what’s important to our students.

Several years ago, when I opened the session to questions, one young man asked: “Mr. Roberts, what’s your job?” I paused, and then said, “I guess I’m the head cheerleader for high school sports in Michigan.”

So then this precocious student asked: “Okay, what do you cheer for?”  With a briefer pause, this is some of what I said:

  • I cheer for sportsmanship that’s not merely good, but great.

  • I cheer for sportsmanship, not gamesmanship.

  • I cheer for playing by the rules, both the letter and the spirit.

  • I cheer for maximum effort to try to win each and every contest.

  • I don’t cheer for winning at any cost; I do cheer for learning at every opportunity.

  • I cheer for losing with grace and for winning with even greater grace, with humility and modesty.

  • I cheer for the lessons of victory and the even greater lessons of defeat.