N.J. legislator wants to punish athletes for repeating grades
State Sen. Richard Codey plans to introduce a bill this fall that would limit students who repeat sixth, seventh or eighth grade to three years or six consecutive semesters of athletic eligibility once they reach high school, according to NJ.com.The article notes that middle school students have been “redshirting” — as it’s often called — at record numbers. Codey, who is also a youth basketball coach, said he’s encountering more players that are repeating grades and he believes it’s creating an uneven playing field.
From the article:
“It’s clear in 99 percent of these cases it’s being done for athletic advantage,” Codey said. “This phenomenon has been around, but it’s to me, anecdotally, growing by leaps and bounds.”
While there is no known or reliable data on the trend, some coaches estimate 20 to 50 percent of top-tier New Jersey high school athletes have repeated a grade. Examples include 2015 No. 1 NBA draft pick Karl-Anthony Towns, 2015 McDonald’s All-Americans Isaiah Briscoe and Malachi Richardson, three-time state wrestling champion Johnny Sebastian and former Big East Conference football Rookie of the Year Brian Toal.
Codey said he plans to introduce the bill later this month or in early November. He said a companion bill will be co-sponsored by Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-Gloucester) — another legislator intimately involved with the state’s sports scene — and Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D-Essex) and Assemblyman John McKeon (D-Essex).
New Jersey student-athletes are allowed to compete in sports as a senior as long as they turn 19 after Sept. 1 of that school year.
If passed, the bill would force the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association to rewrite its bylaws.