PIAA Adopts new transfer rule to help curb imbalance in sports
Written by: Billy Splain on Wednesday, July 18th, 2018
Written by Greg Pickel, Pennlive
STATE COLLEGE — The PIAA approved a new transfer rule on Wednesday that will force student-athletes who transfer in the 10th grade or later to sit out the next year’s postseason in their respective sport unless they can prove a hardship.
A Board of Directors vote by a 26-2 count passed the motion on suspended protocol, meaning it can go into effect Aug. 6 and impact transfers that may happen during the upcoming school year or anytime after that date.
The preamble to the now-adopted article in the PIAA’s By-Laws reads as follows:
“[T]he Board of Directors has determined that, with few exceptions, any students who transfer after playing a sport in their 10th grade year shall not be eligible to participate in the ensuing PIAA tournament in that sport. The student, if otherwise eligible, may participate in that sport only during the regular season.”
As for the “few exceptions,” that list includes:
- A change of residence necessitated by a change in employment
- A school-initiated administrative transfer within a school district
- A court ordered transfer
- A change of schools caused by a military reassignment of a parent
- A change of schools caused by release from a juvenile facility
- A demonstrable change in income or other financial resources that compels withdrawal from a private school.
Listed as reasons that will “not be deemed to meet” the hardship standard includes a “transfer for academic, developmental, spiritual and/or social reasons; and, a change of residence resulting from a family separation, unless court approved.” However, the PIAA does leave some wiggle room, as each transfer is taken up first by the respective District committee, whose decision can then be appealed to the state level.
Previously, discussions had considered starting the postseason ban if a student-athlete transferred following the completion of a sport in the ninth grade, but ultimately, the decision landed on 10th grade because that’s when most varsity athletic participation begins, according to PIAA Executive Director Robert Lombardi.
“I think what will happen is, it will get people to tap the brakes a little bit if they think that they can move and play somewhere else if they’re not playing where they are,” Lombardi said, adding that he doesn’t expect to see a dramatic increase in transfer hearings held because of the new rule.
Asked why student-athletes would be allowed to participate in the regular season but not the postseason as opposed to simply missing the entirety of the season, Lombardi said:
“There were considerations of keeping people out the whole season, but the committee felt, ‘wait a minute, if the kid is deemed eligible, we don’t want to end up being so restrictive that he can’t play'”, adding that competitive balance was taken into consideration when opting to enforce the postseason ban.
The new rule will impact Pennsylvania residents and any student-athlete who would move into a PIAA school from out-of-state alike, and it pertains to all sports a student-athletic participated in during the previous year.
In-season transfers will continue to be governed by PIAA legislation that was passed earlier this year, which included a 21-day sit out rule if a student-athlete practiced or played with his or her previous school before he or she could play at a new school, and also a 50-percent provision, which says that if a student-athlete played in 50 percent or more of his or her old school’s maximum regular-season contests, than they cannot finish the athletic season at their new school.
As for the competition formula, it will be calculated starting with the 2018-2019 school year and be implemented to figure out classifications for the first time ahead of the 2021-2022 realignment cycle. The formula is explained below from previous PennLive reporting from Eric Epler:
Success Factor scale
* Participation in a district final = 1 point
* Participation in a PIAA quarterfinal = 2 points
* Participation in a PIAA semifinal = 3 points
* Participation in a PIAA final = 4 points
Schools would receive the points based on their highest finish in the previous two-year cycle. Should a school accumulate 6 points or greater and accept athletic transfers, according to a fixed ratio (below), the school would move up 1 class in that sport for the following cycle.
In addition, if a school receives 6 points or greater in the previous two-year cycle, and accepts transfer students by sport and gender that are equal to or exceeds one less than half of the starting line-up, the school will be required to move up 1 classification.
That would equal two transfers in basketball (5 starters) or five transfers in football (11 starters).
Schools that receive points, but not transfers, would remain in its same enrollment classification.
The option to “play up” in classification remains in place, and Lombardi also said a waiver provision would be in place to address transfer students with “exceptional and unusual” circumstances.”
“I think that’s a real paradigm shift from the past, and the board has done a great job since last March,” Lombardi said of Wednesday’s changes.
A seventh, or super class, was also once discussed as part of the rule changes, but no action was taken on that matter Wednesday and Lombardi said it was essentially taken off the table.
The two rule changes come on the heels of next week’s gathering of superintendents from various PIAA districts in State College to discuss the on-going public versus private school debate. Asked if he feels the rule changes fix the “perceived imbalance,” Lombardi said:
“I don’t think it will fix it in everybody’s mind, but I think it’s an attempt to move down the road to try and handle perceived imbalance.
“I think this is a great move to try and look at perceived imbalance and, if there is imbalance, then lets address it.”
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