Student athletes who change schools in NJ could soon be subject to a new rule
The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association is expected to adopt a rule change on Tuesday that would simplify how student athletes are treated when they move from one school to another.
According to Larry White, the assistant director of the NJSIAA, the current transfer rule is complicated, and requires a student to move with his or her family from one town to another if a transfer is going to be verified, which then allows the student athlete to immediately be eligible to play for their new school team.
Under the proposed rule change, all student athletes who transfer from one school to another would have to sit out either 30 days, or half the number of games in the schedule of that sport, whichever comes first.
He said under the current rule, “if a student athlete played varsity at the previous school the previous year and does not move with a parent or guardian from one public high school district to another public high school district, which would define a bonafide change of residence, the student athlete would have to sit 30 days, or half the number of games per that sport, whichever occurs first.”
But if it is determined there is a bonafide change of address, a change of residence for the family, the student can play in their sport right away, “provided that a transfer form has been executed by the present school and the previous school, and the previous school did not indicate that they had reasonable belief to say the transfer was for athletic advantage and/or recruitment.”
An example of a non-bonafide move would be if a student athlete goes to live with a grandparent or an aunt or uncle, instead of moving with their parent or guardian to a new address in a new town.
Under current rules, schools have to determine whether a bonafide change of residence actually takes place, which is sometimes complicated and time consuming (and sometimes it may involve a ruling from a court). So the proposed transfer rule change calls for all student athletes who make a move from one school to another, whether they are on the varsity team or not, whether the move is verified or not, to sit out 30 days or half the number of games on the schedule, whichever comes first.
He noted the current transfer rule only applies to varsity players.
White said the idea of changing the rule is to simplify things.
“The problem is it just become very, very difficult to really determine is it a bonafide change of residence or is it not,” he said.
“There tends to be a sizable number of transfers that are repeat transfers, you can see student athletes that are jumping from one school to another to another.”
He said when this happens, “we don’t have an investigative force."
“It gets really, really difficult to ascertain the legitimacy of those kinds of moves, so perhaps it’s just best to take that out of the equation.”
He noted some student athletes will transfer from school to school to be able to better showcase their skills and abilities, and under the proposed rule change that may still take place, but “this way it’s simple, it’s easy, it’s everybody is basically treated the same. At least then I think the enforcement piece becomes tremendously easier than what it is now.”
The proposed rule is just saying if you do it, here’s the punishment and we’re treating everybody pretty much the same way.”
He noted 30 days is the shortest “sitting out period” of any of the state associations throughout the country. Many have a one-year sit-out rule.
White added under the current transfer rule and also in the proposed rule change, if a student athlete changes schools after the midway point of the season of their sport, they would not be eligible to participate in the playoffs (post-season games).
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.
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