Commissioner of Education Vetoes NJSIAA’s New Transfer Rule
It's back to the drawing board for the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association in its efforts to end the transfer epidemic in the Garden State.
The new NJSIAA transfer rule that was scheduled to go into effect July 1 and toughen the sanctions on athletes who change schools for athletic advantage has been turned down by New Jersey's acting Commissioner of Education, Kimberly Harrington.
The newest rule that was designed to curb the rampant transferring from one school to another around New Jersey was approved by a 25-9 vote by the NJSIAA Executive Committee on February 8. The main crux of the new rule was eliminating the murky bonafide address change clause that many athletes skirted and the NJSIAA was mostly powerless to enforce.
Only the Commissioner of Education could nix the vote, and she decided to do so Thursday morning.
“While the NJSIAA Executive Committee was eager to have a more enforceable transfer rule, the association remains encouraged and looks forward to working with the Commissioner of Education to develop a solution that discourages transfers for athletic advantage,” NJSIAA Executive Director Steve Timko said in a prepared statement. “Our hope is to meet with the Commissioner as soon as possible to address this important issue.”
The new rule would have required athletes who transfer to a new school to sit 30 days from the start of the regular season, including sub-varsity teams, regardless of a legitimate change of address. Athletes who transferred after the first scrimmage would have to sit out 30 days and would also not be able to participate in the state tournament. Multi-sport athletes would be required to sit the 30 days in each sport they participate. No appeals would be granted
The NJSIAA transfer policy will now stay the same, which requires athletes transferring without a bonafide change of address to sit 30 days. Athletes who can prove new residency in a different district are eligible immediately.
In statement published by NJ.com, Harrison wrote "Although the amendment purports to promote fairness in high school athletic competition by discouraging students to transfer for athletic advantage, it fails to take into account legitimate reasons for student transfers that may be beyond their control."
One of the main complaints of the new transfer rule is punishing athletes who change schools because of a legitimate residential move unrelated to athletics. Harrison echoed that concern, describing those situations as ones that should not impact a student athlete's eligibility.
She also wrote that her office "is willing to work with the NJSIAA to develop a solution that strikes the appropriate balance between ensuring students who transfer for legitimate reasons can participate in sports immediately, while discouraging those students seeking to transfer for athletic advantage."
Once again, it's back to square one for the NJSIAA.
Managing editor Bob Badders can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.