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New Transfer Rule Could Give a Real or Imagined Jolt to Prep Football PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mike Terry Contributing Writer   
Thursday, 23 August 2012 05:01

Instead Of Having To Wait A Full Year To Play, Some Athletes Will Become Eligible On Oct. 1

Prep football gets underway this week, and it's a good idea to start watching some of your favorite teams now. There might be some key alterations in October.

That's because the state California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) office has instituted a major rules change regarding the eligibility of students who transfer schools.

Before the 2012-13 academic year began, a transferring student could wait as long as a calendar year to be able to participate in varsity sports at the new school. But starting this semester, the "Sit Out Period, as it's known, has three different ending dates.

This semester, football players and other fall sport transfer athletes can begin playing varsity sports on Oct.1. Winter sport transfer athletes can join their new varsity teams on Dec. 31, and spring transfer athletes are eligible for varsity on April 1, 2013.

This assumes the participants have met all the other eligibility requirements as outlined by the state CIF, and the Los Angeles City and Southern sections. Among those requirements: the student must be transferring for the first time since his or her initial enrollment in the ninth grade in any school; that he or she is academically eligible at the time of said transfer; and that said student is not transferring for disciplinary reasons, following their former coach who has relocated, or joining a club coach with whom they have previously been associated with, who is now coaching the new school.

"I think one of the things it does is treat (athletes) all the same, other than certain caveats," Los Angeles City Section Commissioner Barbara Fiege said.

"Is it perfect? No. Does it help the process? Yes. There were some kids who were restricted for an entire year for something they should not have been, where others were able to play because of hardship reasons … that [sometimes] were ultimately difficult to prove."

The first real test of this new rule will be football. And some coaches I contacted appeared unsure as to how this potentially affects the upcoming season.

"We won't know until (nonleague) when someone's not starting," Alemany Coach Dean Herrington said. "Would they rather go somewhere else, sit five games and not play? You don't know what parents will think. I don't really have an opinion. We have a kid from Chaminade who came over and has to sit. We play a 'Zero Week' game, so he has to sit six games." Kennedy Coach Dion Lambert wasn't too keen on the rule change.

"I think it's a kind of fool's gold," Lambert said. "If a kid is really thinking they can just transfer and play right away … there's a lot of issues involved. "First of all they have to be at [the new school] on the first day in order to play by Oct. 1. If they come after that date they have to wait longer – either a week or month or the season, depending on when they come in. So it's [still] kind of discretionary by the district on when they're gonna put in that timeline. "If the kid is there, then they get to play Oct.1. But they still miss what, 4-5 games? By that time, most of the teams are flowing. Is that kid that good he's just going to step in and take someone else's job? If so that team must be hurting. Not that you would turn a kid away.

But he's going to have to be pretty special to just step in and do that."

Other coaches, like Birmingham's Jim Rose, argue the rule change could be beneficial for some students who can't get the playing time they believe they should get at one school, and might find it elsewhere. "In the City Section, I think it is a good thing," Rose said. "At some of these private schools, they are so loaded – 2-3 deep with players – where you may get kids saying 'I want to play, not sit on the bench.' And it may help us and hurt some of the big private schools. There's talent there, and those kids want to play.

"And I do like it better than having to sit out a whole year. That's a little harsh in this age. College is a year. High school…they're still kids."

Perhaps the biggest unanswered question is what the rule change could do as far as creating a competitive advantage. Assuming all incoming transfers were enrolled by the opening day of school, those athletes will miss anywhere from 4-5 games before the Oct.1 starting date.

Most teams enter league play in October. Those are the games that usually determine playoff positions. Depending on the amount and quality of new players – and whether they have been regularly practicing to know the offensive and/or defensive systems of their new school – coordinators could have some real headaches trying to prepare schemes for an opponent that, now, might be very different from the one they have been previously studying on film.

Sierra Canyon Coach Jon Ellinghouse is not convinced there will be a huge flood of transfers to teams that could dramatically alter the playing field.

"I actually think there will be less kids transferring from this rule; that's my opinion,"

Ellinghouse said. "I think having to sit out 4-5 games is going to be a big deterrent to kids. You [also] lose the freshman transfer rule, so there will be less freshmen and incoming sophomores transferring in. So I'm anticipating less transfers coming in, rather than more."

Whatever happens, El Camino Real Coach Kevin Williams warns the rest of us to get used to it.

"I think it shows as a whole, and that includes private schools, City and Southern sections, that it's symptomatic of how out of whack things have gotten," Williams said.

"It's become commonplace now for high school coaches to deal with personal trainers, club '7-on-7' teams, and parents that go around just acting like agents for their kids. It's a product of the popularity of high school football in California. That's where we're at now."

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

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Last Updated on Thursday, 23 August 2012 05:06