Transfer Tools

February 7, 2014

On Oct. 15 I used this space to talk about “Transfer Trends”; and I took that topic on the road, including it in MHSAA Update meetings throughout the state. I described an “epidemic.”

As I have said and written before (including in this space on Sept. 27, 2011), our transfer regulation is an inadequate tool for the fight ahead of us. It has failed to slow the growth of athletic-motivated transfers even after adoption of a rule for that purpose in 1997. Too few schools have wanted the hassle of alleging and documenting that a transfer was primarily for athletic reasons. In 2012, the leadership of the basketball and wrestling coaches associations, observing that current rules permitted several high-profile transfers in their sports, asked for a much tougher transfer rule – one that would subject most transfer students to a full year of ineligibility. Recognizing its legal responsibility to enforce the most narrow proscriptions possible, the Representative Council responded with more precision.

The new athletic-related transfer rule adopted last May extends the period of ineligibility from one semester to two for those students whose circumstances do not fit one of the existing 15 exceptions to the transfer regulation and where the student has engaged in certain activities during the previous 12 months that link the student to the new school’s athletic program.

If a student played high school sports during the previous 12 months and did one of the activities that linked that student to the new school athletically, the new rule doubles the period of ineligibility. If, for example, this transfer student attended an open gym at the new school, played summer or non-school sports on a team coached by one of the coaches of the sport at the new school, or received instruction in strength or conditioning from a personal trainer who coaches at the new school, then the period of ineligibility would double.

In addition to narrowly tailoring the new rule to the most obvious and egregious examples of an athletic-motivated or -related transfer, the Representative Council also provided necessary notice. The rule has not been “sprung” on students who may have done things before the rule change that would have made them ineligible. Because the rule has a 12-month run-up to consider, the Council provided almost 15 months’ notice. The rule takes full effect Aug. 1, 2014.

This is another example of defining a problem and designing the policy with precision. It’s both most educationally sound and judicially defensible.

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.