It’s clear that in recent years New Jersey high school students transferring from one school to another for athletic reasons has become a major problem. The rules that have been in place are circumvented, unenforced or ignored for a variety of reasons and simply don’t work.

In many cases parents will do whatever they can to find what they think is a better place for their son or daughter to display their talents and get the exposure needed to secure the expected college scholarship.

While the motivation at times is pure it’s allowed some schools to basically form all-star teams and make competitive balance a joke. Previous efforts to stem the tide have been unsuccessful but that might not be the case much longer.

On Wednesday the executive committee of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Associated voted 27-7 to adopt a transfer rule that while not perfect has some teeth to it. This latest proposal would mean that ANY student transferring would have to sit out the first 30 days of the regular season or half their team’s games, whichever is shorter.

The rule gets even tougher for those who transfer after the first scrimmage or season start date…in that case they not only sit out 30 days but can’t compete in the state tournament for that sport. In addition this applies to all sports so if a transferring student is a 3-sport athlete they would have to sit out the 30 days in all three sports.

The big change is this takes out the so-called bonafide change of address clause at the root of most transfers which often is not really bonafide. In addition there is no appeals process…it’s all black and white with a couple of minor exceptions.

There is a downside and that is some student-athletes will suffer, especially those that move because of a legitimate family situation but at the end of the day this is a positive step to end what’s become an out-of-control situation.

The executive committee will have a second reading and vote on February 4 and if it passes the new transfer rule goes into effect July 1. However if it’s not approved then it will have to wait for a full vote of the NJSIAA member schools in December and the earliest it could happen would be July of 2018. Let’s hope it does not come to that.

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