NJSIAA Special Committee Recommends Drastic Changes to Transfer Rule, Football Landscape
For the first time since a vote lost narrowly in 2007, a special committee created by the NJSIAA to address the rampant transferring and the divide between public and non-public schools in football is recommending drastic changes.
Presented by West Windsor North principal and committee co-chair Mike Zapicchi at Tuesday's Director of Athletics Association of New Jersey conference in Atlantic City, the recommendations involve the separation of public and non-public programs in football and much stricter penalties for transferring.
The 20-member committee recommends that all the non-public football programs in the state be separated into their own 37-team conference with different divisions to address the competitive imbalance that recently led the Big North Conference athletic directors to vote to allow four public schools to refuse to play perennial non-public juggernauts like Don Bosco Prep, Bergen Catholic and St. Joseph's-Montvale.
As for the transfer rule, varsity athletes who transfer would have to sit for 30 days and would be banned from participating in the state tournament with their new team except from those who transfer from one public school to another, provided it's not an open-enrollment public school, and have a legitimate change of address. There also would be no appeal system, so any decision would be final, and any non-varsity athletes would not have to sit at all if they transfer.
The next step is the recommendations being discussed at the NJSIAA Advisory Committee's meeting on April 1 and then recommended to the NJSIAA Executive Committee at its meeting in May. If the proposal continues to move forward through NJSIAA channels, the crucial date for the vote on the football changes would be the organization's annual meeting in December, where the proposal would be up for a vote for approval by the NJSIAA's member schools.
If the new transfer rule ends up being approved, that would most likely happen before the 2015-16 school year began. The timing of when it would go into effect could greatly alter the landscape, as there could be a flurry of transfers trying to switch schools before the rule goes into effect. The aim of the committee is to bring an end to the so-called "free agency" of the offseason where players freely jump teams from year to year and several programs bring in multiple transfers per year to boost their competitiveness, primarily among the North Jersey football and boys basketball elite.
The NJSIAA has been down this road before, as a proposal in 2007 to separate the public and non-public football programs was narrowly voted down, and recommendations to strengthen the transfer rule a year later never came to fruition.