Column: New transfer rule in Michigan isn't enough to stop cheaters

Photo: Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY Sports

The Michigan High School Athletic Association is only a few months into its latest version of the transfer rule and executive director Mark Uyl is cautiously optimistic.

Many coaches, on the other hand, believe the MHSAA didn’t go far enough to stop the flow of transfers that in some cases are an attempt at building super teams.

The rule states students who transfer schools without making a complete and full change of residence with their family are ineligible to compete in the sports they played at their previous school for a full year.

A football player at one school can play soccer or run cross-country at the new school, but not football.

In previous years, an athlete needed to sit out only a single semester at the new school, creating a mass exodus of transfers in January.

“I would say we’ve seen some positive initial steps,” said Uyl. “Go back to last to January and that time of year where every year schools, especially in metro areas, would with lose students to another school or would get kids in in January.

“That has disappeared. I heard that east; I have heard that west. As early as last January we started to hear some positive returns.”

The MHSAA also learned from schools in leagues on both sides of the state the number of transfers has declined.

“We’re seeing a reduction from anywhere of 14 to 18%,” Uyl said. “In those initial steps we’re seeing the movement of kids slowing from both the January piece to this.”

But coaches and school administrators are concerned that the new transfer rule hasn’t done enough because the No. 1 exception to the transfer rule is still a full and complete family change of residence.

“I really don’t understand what is going on,” said Detroit Renaissance football coach Drake Wilkins, who is in his 41st year as a coach. “This is changing so much and so fast from what I’m used to, what I’ve been used to dealing with all my years of coaching. Rules are changing, but it’s like no rules are being enforced, people doing what they want to do.”

That may be what happened when junior wide receiver Robert Army left Renaissance and enrolled at Southfield A&T, where he played in the first five games.

This week the Free Press visited a home in Detroit where Army said he was living with his mother. His mother claimed they really live in Southfield because her lease at the Detroit home expires on Oct. 17.

Read the Detroit Free Press for more.

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