Utah relaxes transfer rules for high school sports

December 12, 2016 / Athletic AdministrationCoaching
The Utah State Board of Education has passed new rules that ease restrictions on student-athletes who transfer to another high school.

basketball floaterAccording to the Deseret News, it’s the first time the state’s board of education has passed rules governing high school sports. The Utah High School Activities Association is typically responsible for creating and overseeing prep sports, but disagreements over transfer rules prompted the state board to get involved.

From the Deseret News:

The new rule changes requirements for student-athletes transferring from one school to another, requires a yearly audit of the Utah High School Activities Association and creates a new type of appeal process that will review decisions made by the association’s hearing panels.

Currently, high school students who want to transfer from one school to another and take their athletic eligibility with them must provide proof of a hardship or a family move into the boundary of the new school.

Under the new rule, a student who has never played varsity sports would be able to transfer to another school and be eligible for athletics. For example, a student who attended one school as a freshman and sophomore and played multiple sports — but never at the varsity level — could transfer to any other school for any reason and automatically be eligible to play sports.

Surveying coaches

Parents and athletes might want more freedom in transferring between schools, but coaches do not stand with them.

Coach & Athletic Director surveyed readers earlier this year and 83.3% said they do not believe student-athletes should be permitted to transfer without penalty. Most fear it would encourage recruiting by coaches at competing schools.

“(I) agree that parents should be able to choose their school,” one coach said. “Once they choose, they should be allowed to change their minds based on academic reasons, not for the purpose of athletics. Allowing kids to change schools based on athletics, degrades the mission of the academic institution and hurts student athletes. To assure that parents are requesting transfers based on academics, student athletes should not be allowed to participate in games the following year. Participating in practices should be allowed during the probationary year so skill development continues.”

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