The Michigan High School Athletic Association has not been standing still while the athletic transfer situation has devolved into an eyesore for educational athletics.
Twenty years ago (1997), the association adopted a rule that extended from one semester to 180 scheduled school days the period of ineligibility in all sports for a student whose primary reason for changing schools is alleged and confirmed to be athletics.
In 2014, dissatisfied with the infrequency of that rule’s use and the difficulties it created between schools, the association adopted the “links” rule – the athletic-related transfer rule. This extended ineligibility from one semester to 180 scheduled school days in a particular sport when a non-school experience in that sport links the student to the school team to which he or she is transferring.
The newer rule has been easier to use. It doesn’t require that an allegation be made by the administration of the school from which the student is transferring. It has been less likely to pit one school against another, but more likely to pit parents against the MHSAA.
The new rule has been best used as a deterrent before a student transfers ... a warning. But the rule is of no use if one of the 15 exceptions that provides for immediate eligibility applies – for example, if there was a full and complete change of residence.
That is a gap that gnaws at those who want to nab the “game changers” – those transfers who add to the status of one team while dashing the dreams of another.