Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Transfer Issue Comes before Njsiaa Again

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Transfer Issue Comes before Njsiaa Again

Article excerpt

The growing issue of student-athletes easily transferring from one school to another is headed toward a climax.

To hear one longtime Bergen County athletic director tell it, the perceived rise in transferring has turned high school sports in New Jersey into the "wild, wild West."

One senior has transferred three times already. Stories circulate about parents who have signed a six-month lease in another town or transferred guardianship of their children to relatives in other towns simply to make an athlete eligible more quickly.

"There's so much jumping around, it's a joke," Park Ridge athletic director Chris Brown said. "These kids can jump all over the place."

A proposal that will be voted on by the executive committee of the NJSIAA on Wednesday intends to change that behavior.

A plan conceived by Jefferson athletic director John DiColo and Vernon AD Bill Edelman would force athletes who transfer from a public school to a non-public or choice school without a change of address to sit out 45 days and the entire postseason that year -- rather than the current 30 days under NJSIAA rules. A choice school is one that offers one or more specialized programs, making it capable of enrolling students from outside its normal sending area.

"What we've found is that kids are willing to sit the 30 days," DiColo told the NJSIAA's advisory committee last month. "If they're going to miss three-quarters of the season and there is no postseason eligibility, it makes it more significant."

Athletes who transfer from a non-public or choice school to a public school would not have to sit any time.

The proposal has met with plenty of skepticism among North Jersey non-public-school athletic officials.

"Where's the fairness in that?" said Tony Karcich, the longtime AD and recently retired football coach at St. Joseph.

The executive committee will vote whether to put the proposal to a vote by the association's full membership in December. If the committee votes it down Wednesday, DiColo and Edelman still can get it on the ballot for the full membership by getting 20 athletic directors to sign off on it.

If history is any indicator, the proposal faces an uphill battle, even if it gets past the executive committee. In 2008, the association's full membership voted to separate non-public schools throughout the state into their own districts and region for wrestling, only to have the state Commissioner of Education reverse the vote a month later.

It also likely would have difficulty passing a court challenge, because it treats student-athletes transferring between schools in the association differently based on the school they transfer to.

But the proposal again does bring to the forefront the issue of athletes transferring between schools in an effort, as many observers believe, to find a better athletic opportunity. …

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