The core of our current transfer rule was debated by a predecessor organization 20 years before the Michigan High School Athletic Association existed, in 1904. The MHSAA’s first handbook stated the rule in 1925: a one-semester wait to play after a change of schools, unless accompanied by a residential change by the student and parents or guardians. A one-semester wait, with one exception.
In 1971, the number of stated exceptions went from one to twelve.
It’s in 1981 when sentiment seemed to shift toward a harder line when the exception from a “broken home” approved by both school principals was toughened to require a completed divorce decree and a form signed by both principals and the MHSAA executive director.
When the transfer rule was adopted, the world was different than today. In 1904, 1925, 1971, even 1981, it was both a different society and youth sports landscape.
There were many more three-sport athletes then than today and many more three-sport coaches. There were many fewer non-school youth sports programs then than now, and many fewer nonfaculty coaches. And, of course, there was no school of choice.
Increasing year-round single-sport specialization by both students and coaches; ubiquitous specialized sports camps, clinics, trainers, travel teams and leagues – where both students and parents are making friends; more reliance on drop-in, nonfaculty coaches for school teams; and expanding open enrollment laws have combined to change our world.
And they combine to suggest the need for more changes in the MHSAA transfer rule.