(3-29-18) OHSAA member schools will vote on referendum items in May. One that will be the main focus of many school administrators will be By-Law 4-7-2 on Transfers.
The 50% rule now in place could be flipped if members approve the change. Now when a student-athlete transfers, if he doesn’t meet any of the numerous exemptions, the athlete must sit out the first half of the season, but becomes eligible for the second half of the season and tournament play. The change would flip that around to allow the student-athlete to play immediately in the first half of the season and sit-out the second half of the school season and the tournament.
According to the comments section for the rule on the OHSAA web site:
‘five years – the debate has raged’
The comment section also says:
‘sitting out the first 50% of the regular season is not severe enough to dissuade transfers designed to “stack” teams
Admitting there is a problem is important, but the issue of recruiting is not addressed in the by-law. ‘Stacking teams’ (as mentioned above) comes from players moving to play for a certain coach or school and leave a program not as successful at their present. The AAU and club teams in other sports has a lot to do with the numerous changes and transfers that are now taking happening across the US. The Tennessee state association recently lost a hearing in court on two players that transferred to Memphis East to play for their AAU coach and former NBA star Penny Hardaway. The TSAAA has a by-law in place that makes a player ineligible for having prior contact with a coach, but the court overruled it and puts the by-law in jeopardy for the future. Although the violation was quite evident with the two players.
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Enforcing any transfer rules that might be in place in any state is going to be tough in the future for associations to get past litigation and court rulings. Although Michigan won a recent eligibility case of a high-profile transfer, when his prior school would not sign-off on the transfer.
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There are over 50 state associations across the country and none of them have a perfect solution on how to handle transfers that can satisfy everyone involved. Student-athletes (and their parents), who feel they need a program that will help them play at the college level, now have opportunities to play at schools not associated with a state association and avoid any transfer issues, bypassing the problem completely.
In Ohio, SPIRE Academy is one option, but many quality student-athletes have access to a program anywhere in the country. In last night’s McDonald’s All-American game you can see that many of the players attended schools that bring in players from across the country and Canada.
The NFHS has decided not to get involved in the transfer issue or work with associations on how to handle the issues they all face.
Many state associations depend on the ‘honesty’ of school officials when they handle transfer situations. The most recent case in Ohio would be Deer Park who won the D III state boys basketball title. Nine transfers were an issue, but the OHSAA confirmed that they had worked with the school on each one and there was no problem with any of the athletes.
With Ohio’s open enrollment and school voucher policy has also allowed athletes to easily move to a neighboring school and avoiding past roadblocks, making transfers a larger problem than in the past.
OHSAA membership now will consider the changes proposed in by-law 4-7-2, it will be interesting to see what they decide.
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