One of the longest held tenets of athletic eligibility is that a student athlete can’t explicitly transfer for athletic reasons alone. Now that may be changing in California.
As reported by the Los Angeles Times’ Eric Sondheimer, the Southern Section Council voted on Wednesday to support a proposal that would allow athletes and their parents to openly say they are transferring between schools for athletic reasons and gain eligibility as soon as they complete a mandated sit-out period. The rule has also reportedly gained support from the City Section, which governs schools in the immediate Los Angeles area.
The proposed shift would completely turn athlete eligibility on its head. Rather than claim other relatively minor reasons, student athletes searching for a move to improve their athletic standing would openly do so, significantly limiting the risk and number of disqualifications.
In the Southern Section, member leagues voted overwhelmingly — 63-12-1 — to support the proposed measure. The proposal will be voted on Friday at the CIF’s state Federated Council meeting, where support would enact it statewide.
While the measure would greatly limit ineligible athletes, it wouldn’t completely eliminate the risks that come with athletically-motivated transfers. The CIF insists that recruiting will remain illegal, and there will still be a strict prohibition on athletes following a coach who leaves for a new opportunity.
Still, the proposal would be the most drastic shift in transfer policy in recent memory and could significantly alter the high school sports landscape in the country’s largest state by population.