Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Wimberly Goes on Offense over Transfers

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Wimberly Goes on Offense over Transfers

Article excerpt

Saying he has the support of close to 10 fellow Assembly members, Benjie Wimberly, D-Paterson, said Wednesday that he would be introducing a bill in the Legislature to amend New Jersey's new transfer rule for student-athletes.

"Do I want to make this an urban vs. rural thing? No, I don't. I'm a coach," said Wimberly, currently the head football coach at Hackensack High School. "I want the kids to get a fair shot, and I don't think this is fair, bottom line."

The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, the governing body for high school athletics in New Jersey, passed a new transfer rule in February aimed at curbing the rise of high-profile student-athletes, which has tarnished the high school sports landscape across the nation.

The new rule is actually an old one that the NJSIAA once had on the books, saying kids who transfer must sit out 30 days before participating in games. It goes into effect July 1.

Wimberly's bill, which will be considered by the Education Committee, calls for three amendments to the rule. The main clause is that any kid who transfers from one school to another can do so without penalty the first time he or she leaves a school. The second calls for kids who played sub-varsity high school athletics to be eligible immediately when they transfer. The third is that any student-athlete who comes in from another state should be free to play right away.

Wimberly, who also coached at Eastside and Paterson Catholic, attended the NJSIAA's Executive Committee meeting in February and spoke about his feelings on the new transfer rule. Wimberly feels that it unfairly punishes kids from urban school districts, whose population is more transient. The old rule allowed for kids to be eligible right away, provided that a bona fide change of address could be documented.

That loophole was frequently exploited, one of the main reasons the NJSIAA sought to create a simpler regulation. You transfer. You sit 30 days. Special accommodations would be made only in certain cases. NJSIAA officials pointed out how a student who transfers often falls behind academically, and noted that a 30-day sit policy was the shortest in the nation for athletic transfers. …

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