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In a stark reversal of its standard policy, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association will allow student-athletes to transfer schools without penalty for the 2020-2021 academic year as part of its COVID-19 package.

The temporary measure was approved during Friday’s resumption of the NJSIAA’s June Executive Committee meeting, which was being conducted virtually Wednesday before ending prematurely because of a power outage. The association’s COVID-19 package contains several amendments to its bylaws designed to give student-athletes relief due to the effects of the pandemic and the uncertainty surrounding the upcoming school year.

For the 2020-2021 academic year, students who transfer by Sept. 1 for the fall season and Nov. 1 for the winter season will be immediately eligible and will not have to provide a bona fide change of address, which has been a previous requirement. Because the 2020 spring season was canceled, there is no transfer deadline for the spring 2021 season.

Transfers that occur for athletic advantage will continue to be penalized, however, with athletic directors having the ability to challenge them.

Previously, athletes who transferred without a legitimate change of address were required to sit for the first 30 days of the season.

"Everyone’s goal is to get student-athletes back to participating as soon as possible,” said Colleen Maguire, the NJSIAA’s newly-minted Chief Operating Officer, according to NJ.com. “We wanted to try to remove any hurdles that may be in their way or unforeseen circumstances that might be in their control.”

The ruling is retroactive to March 16 when Gov. Phil Murphy closed New Jersey schools for in-person classes. Any athlete who transferred prior to March 16 will be subject to the original transfer rules.

Two additional amendments passed for 2020-2021 

  • Student-athletes who do not have enough credits to participate because of the pandemic can apply for a waiver through their school principal. The credit requirements will remain in place, but the principal can send a letter to the NJSIAA explaining the student’s specific situation.
  • The deadline for school districts to apply for co-operative athletic programs has been extended to Sept. 1 for fall, Nov. 1 for winter and Feb. 1 for spring. The previous dates were Jan. 15 for the fall season, April 15 for the winter season and Sept. 15 for the spring season.

 

Managing editor Bob Badders can be reached at bob.badders@townsquaremedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.