AURORA — For the first time since the 2003-04 school year, the CHSAA transfer rule has been given a makeover.
In a 55-15 vote at Thursday's Legislative Council meeting, the proposed change to the transfer rule was passed and will go into effect on June 1.
"It's going to support educationally-based athletics and activities for student participants who who are encouraged to take advantage of schools of choice," CHSAA commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green said. "This puts emphasis on education versus athletics. Student participants to always have the opportunity to transfer based on bona fide family moves and hardships per our bylaws."
The rule is intended to provide a more clear and consistent approach in the handling of transfers throughout the state. It was developed by a 21-member Handbook Committee made up of various athletic directors throughout the state.
It was then recommended by the Board of Directors and sent to the Legislative Council for a vote.
The Handbook Committee's sole purpose was not just to implement a new transfer rule, but to examine CHSAA bylaws as a whole and work to make the association work more efficiently and in the best interests of schools and student athletes.
"Change is not easy for many of us to move forward," CHSAA board president Jim Lucas said to the Legislative Council. "It can be difficult and extremely uncomfortable. It is far more comfortable to stay where we are than to take steps and make adjustments."
The most significant change of the new transfer rule is that student athletes will lose varsity eligibility for 365 days if transferring schools without a bona fide family move, or a hardship waiver. Students who make a bona fide move will maintain 100 percent eligibility.
Hardship waivers may still be submitted to the CHSAA commissioner, and students who transfer will maintain sub-varsity eligibility.
A change was made in the hardship process, however. If a student or parent/guardian is found to have submitted false information in order to be granted a hardship, the student athlete can now lose up to two years of eligibility in any sport at any level. It was previously a one-year period of lost eligibility.
According to CHSAA legal counsel Alex Halpern, there were around 1,800 transfer requests during this year. Of those requests, around 1,300 fell into the automatic ruling category of granting 50 percent eligibility, bona fide moves, etc.
But there were about 500 that went in front of Blanford-Green who had to rule on the eligibility of those student athletes. Four of those rulings were appealed and of those appeals, just one was overturned.
"I think once our school communities and administrators understand the rule, we'll see less transfer," Blanford-Green said. "In the bigger picture. I think in the first year we'll see more hardships, or what people consider to be hardships."
Blanford-Green added that after the first year, she expects the number of transfer requests coming across her desk to decrease from what the commissioner has normally seen in a given year.
The previous rule saw students have the potential of keeping 50 percent of their varsity eligibility. Mid-year and athletically-motivated transfers lost a full year of eligibility.
With the new rule, all transfers that are not the result of a bona fide move, or those that aren't the result of a hardship, are now on the same plane.