Michigan’s welcoming foreign exchange program network and the MHSAA’s accommodating rules have caused there to be more placements in Michigan schools than any other state during each of the last two school years. But this open environment for foreign exchange students may change if the MHSAA is unsuccessful in defending its current rules through judicial proceedings in Michigan courts.
Presently under MHSAA rules, international transfer students are treated identically to domestic transfer students: unless the student meets one of 15 stated exceptions, that student is ineligible for approximately one semester and then becomes eligible insofar as the transfer regulation is concerned until that student’s high school graduation.
If, however, this student is a foreign exchange student placed in an MHSAA member school through a program listed by the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel, that student is permitted immediate eligibility and that student’s eligibility is limited to one academic year. This special exception for bona fide foreign exchange students is intended to maximize the benefits of their academic exchange year.
The current court challenge is to the absolute limit of one year of athletic eligibility for foreign exchange students. If the MHSAA is unsuccessful in preserving that one-year limit, schools may be forced to treat foreign exchange students as all other international transfer students who are ineligible for their first semester and thereafter eligible until graduation.
That solution may seem simple, but it would reduce the value of the academic exchange experience for bona fide foreign exchange students, and that would certainly drop Michigan from the top spot in the nation for foreign exchange student placements.