Utah considers loosening restrictions on HS transfers

September 7, 2016 / Athletic AdministrationCoaching
Utah could soon give more freedom to high school student-athletes who want to transfer to another school for sports.

Utah could soon give more freedom to student-athlete transfers. | Photo: Kevin Hoffman
Utah could soon give more freedom to student-athlete transfers. | Photo: Kevin Hoffman

The state Board of Education is facing off with the Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA) over its restrictions on students who transfer schools. The UHSAA’s current policy, which is standard in many states, establishes a review period for students who jump from one school to another, potentially denying them immediate eligibility to play sports. The Board of Education wants to change that.

A proposal by the Board of Education would prevent schools from joining and paying dues to the UHSAA unless the association changes its eligibility restrictions. Dropping those restrictions would effectively allow a student-athlete to play a fall or winter sport at one school and transfer to another school with eligibility to participate in the spring.

From The Salt Lake Tribune:

“They would either have to change their rules, or public schools wouldn’t be able to participate in their association,” school board Chairman David Crandall said.

UHSAA’s executive director, Rob Cuff, said the association has not taken a formal position on the board’s proposal.

But he added that the prohibition on transfer requirements could “open the floodgates,” creating scenarios in which a student switches schools for each varsity sport or jumps to a new team on the eve of a championship game.

“There’s not a state in the whole nation that doesn’t have a transfer rule,” Cuff said. And failure to comply with the board’s policy would potentially cost the association 89 percent of its member schools.

“That would be doing away with the UHSAA, I guess,” he said. “Or it would be a private-school league.”

UHSAAThe State Board of Education insists that recruiting by schools and coaches would still be a violation, but it’s always a challenge for associations to prove it. If anything, this proposal simplifies recruiting for those already doing it.

Florida made similar changes this year, allowing student-athlete transfers immediate eligibility in athletics. Coaches and athletic administrators across the state feared the change would open the flood gates for recruiting. They also believe the change was prompted by parents who wanted to place their children in the state’s best sports schools.

There does appear to be a conflict in Utah, as reported by The Salt Lake Tribune. School Board Chairman David Crandall also serves on the governing board of Summit Academy, a charter school that was sanctioned earlier this year for violating the UHSAA’s recruiting rules.

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