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KHSAA to consider one-time ‘free’ transfer for high school athletes

By on February 16, 2022 0

With the growing number of athletes in state-changing schools, the Kentucky High School Athletic Association’s Board of Control began a discussion on Wednesday about a possible rule change that would allow for a “free” transfer.

KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett said the board could consider a proposal at its next meeting scheduled for May 11. Ultimately, individual schools should vote to change the current rule that state transfers must take a year off unless they meet certain exceptions, including a change of residency.

Tackett asked board members if there were any “vehemently opposed” to the question, and none responded.

“It will be a critical vote that will shape the future,” Tackett said. “It’s not something you’re going to throw (at schools) on the first of September and say, ‘Oh, by the way, we’re voting in two weeks. “”

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The details of a proposal need to be worked out, but the basics would work like this: an athlete playing at one school as a freshman could transfer to another school and be immediately eligible to compete as a sophomore. If the athlete wanted to transfer again, he or she would have to leave for a year.

Tackett estimated that around 1,400 to 1,500 athletes have requested transfers so far in the 2021-22 school year, with 800 being the typical average for this time of year.

Tackett said state managers are asking for relief to investigate the transfers.

“It bogs them down,” Tackett said. “Frankly, not all of them do as thorough a job as they probably would like. …

“Our schools have our hands tied behind our backs because they are inconsistent in how they do their process. They don’t always tell the whole truth. They may not be making it up, but they don’t always tell the whole truth. They don’t investigate and they just transfer blame.

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Clay City board member Darrell Billings said he supports looking into the matter.

“I think there has to be some relief for the staff and the Kentucky High School Athletic Association at some point,” he said. “You know how much time and effort you put into it now. I think that would eliminate some of that.

Tackett noted before the COVID-19 pandemic that the Board of Control wanted to tighten transfer restrictions and “add investigative elements.”

“Our schools voted against it,” Tackett said. “They didn’t want to do this whole investigation.”

Mercy Academy board member and athletic director Angela Passafiume noted that around 80% of athletes declared ineligible are eventually cleared to play after an appeal process.

“We’re wasting a lot of time and a lot of money,” she said.

Tackett added: “Who paid the price for this? Yes, it’s extra work for us. But that student couldn’t play something that, had the school been open, would likely have been eligible to play anyway. And we have those to whom we say no and to whom we must say yes. This is where we run into credibility issues.

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In other news from Wednesday’s meeting:

* The board voted on a change to the football playoff format for the 2022 season, with teams now playing opponents from another district in the first round instead of an opponent from the same district.

The board had already voted in favor of the change for the 2023 season, but a survey of schools showed 64 per cent favored the change for the 2022 season.

First-round matches in all six classes would be District 1 v 2, District 3 v 4, District 5 v 6, and District 7 v 8, with first-place teams hosting fourth-place teams and second-place teams place hosting third-placed teams.

* Tackett said there would be no COVID-related restrictions — including mask requirements — at his winter sports championships in basketball, swimming and wrestling. Tackett noted that individual school districts could implement restrictions for district and regional events.

Jason Frakes: 502-582-4046; [email protected]; Twitter: @kyhighs.