Monday Jul 20 2009
New CIF Transfer Rules Ready To Take Hold
By: Mike Ray, Gold Country News Services
All 10 CIF Sections Now Under One Transfer By-Law
The California Interscholastic Federation, the governing body for athletics for all of the state’s high schools, has a big task when you consider that its 10 sections include 1,425 member schools and over 500,000 athletes participating in sports ranging from football to water polo. Now currently getting settled in after recently moving its offices from Alameda to Sacramento, the significance of relocating the CIF state office to the state capital may have been just a coincidence considering there were no fewer than six bills related to the organization in the state legislature as of this past May. And while the CIF’s 10 different sections – which cover a vast area from San Diego to Yreka – have gone about doing things within their section-mainly playoffs - for the most part how they’ve wanted to do things, one thing will be perfectly spelled out to the letter beginning this Fall with the start of the ’09-10 school year. For the first time in the CIF’s long history, all of the state’s 10 sections – including the Sac-Joaquin Section – will abide by a new statewide rule for student-athletes that transfer schools and are seeking athletic eligibility. After being involved in several court cases over the past few years that cost both the CIF and taxpayers thousands of dollars in attorney fees, the message sent by the state legislature basically was the following: come to an agreement on a new statewide transfer by-law or we’ll do it for you. Basically, the new by-laws are simple. It’s the 20 plus pages of definitions and legal wording that only a Harvard Law School grad can digest. For the most part the new transfer rule allows a student one free transfer before the start of the athlete’s sophomore year. An example, for instance, would be a student could enter Del Oro High and play sports in his or her freshman year and still be eligible to play at Placer – without the parents or legal guardian changing residences - the next year if the transfer is done and approved before the first day of school in the athlete’s sophomore year. After your sophomore year, an athlete’s family must move to a new home to justify a transfer. If you can't justify a transfer, an athlete can apply for a hardship waiver --which as an example would happen when parents divorce. However, the main stickling point of the new CIF by-law is this: All athletes who are not an incoming freshman and attended another school in the previous 12 calendar months will require paperwork (Form 207 or 510) to be filed in order to be considered to be eligible to play. If a student makes a valid change of residence (or is a foster student) and changes schools, that student must complete the new Form 206. “It’s going to put a lot of the burden on athletic directors and the school’s registrars,” said CIF Sac-Joaquin Assistant Commissioner John Williams. “The new by-law is pretty clear.” Last year in a highly-publicized case, the CIF was forced to restore forfeits to Placer’s football season after a restraining order was issued and a hearing on transfer student Dalton Dyer’s eligibility was heard by an Alameda County court. Dyer, in care of the foster system, moved back to the Auburn area to live with his aunt after participating in sports at Bethel High in his first two years in Vallejo. While Dyer’s move back to Auburn was considered a bona fide change of residence by Placer’s administration, the proper transfer forms were not filed. After an inquiry by another school, Placer was forced to forfeit its games by the CIF in which Dyer participated in. Dyer, was, however, ruled eligible to compete after the school filled out the proper forms. However, backed by lawyers from the National Center for Youth Law, the CIF was challenged on the forfeits and a court ruled that the CIF by-law violated state laws and the losses were turned to wins with the Hillmen making the playoffs. “I think that the new transfer forms really will put ADs and the people who register transfer students in a whole different mode,” said Colfax High athletic director Rob Hitchcock. “I think there is more awareness now.” A third option for transfer students called “limited eligibility” also exists. In that example, let’s say a student-athlete at Colfax played volleyball as a sophomore and then transferred to Bear River without moving into that district. Unless a hardship is granted, that athlete can't play volleyball as a junior at the new school but could play a different sport that season and play volleyball again as a senior. The new rules also note moving can't be motivated by athletics and there can't be undue influence or an intent to deceive. Traveling summer teams like the ASA (softball) and AAU (basketball), for better or worse, have their club programs showcase talented prep athletes in front of college recruiters. At their worst, club programs recruit talent from all over and push for them to join one high school. This is more prominent in the state’s urban areas. However, the new transfer rules are the CIF's attempt to curtail this type of recruiting. Now a student can't play for a club team and then transfer to the school or coach associated with it. If they do, the student loses a year of eligibility and the school may face CIF sanctions. Even if a coach doesn't technically recruit a player from the club team, the association is enough to prompt what the bylaws call "undue influence." "Southern California's become so club-oriented that a lot of the club championships mean more than the CIF championships," Williams said. "I hope that's not where we're heading." If you want some good summer reading, visit the CIF’s state website- www.cifstate.org - and check out the Parent Handbook links including Understanding the Transfer Eligibility Process and Understanding the Transfer Eligibility Appeal Process.