IHSAA can’t cave on transfers

By Roger Grossman
News Now Warsaw

I realize that the IHSAA has a lot going on right now.

Tennis and track and field sectionals are this week, baseball and softball start their postseasons next week, golf is coming after Memorial Day.

Add to that the executive committee needs to work on how to integrate boys volleyball and girls wrestling into the corral of official, IHSAA-sanctioned sports this summer.

Then news came out that Indiana high school sport’s governing body is considering making changes to their transfer rules.

Some call it long overdue. Some describe it as tinkering.

I call it dangerous.

While the deep-dive details of what they are actually considering have not been put out there yet for us to consume and discuss, we know enough to be nervous about it.

Using the IHSAA’s own minutes from their meeting on April 30, one of the proposals brought before them suggested that student-athletes should be allowed to transfer one time from one Indiana high school to another immediately after their freshman year. The other would allow a “free” transfer at any point during their high school experience.

When I say “free,” I mean the IHSAA would not investigate it and the school the student would be leaving wouldn’t be able to throw up any red flags that would block the transfer.

Before I go any further, it’s important for me to say that the IHSAA is just saying that they are planning to study these proposals brought before them. It doesn’t mean they are going to approve either of them, it just means they are going to see what it looks like to have such a policy in place. They study proposals brought to them all of the time, and while I have no stats to back it up, I believe they turn down a high percentage of the
proposals that are presented to them.

And the committee allows a lot of people to bring a lot of ideas to them to hear what people have to say without considering whether or not it has a chance to pass.

I have always appreciated that.

But this proposal of letting students transfer from one school to another without the IHSAA overseeing it is just a really bad idea.

Let me also premise what I am about to say by pointing out that if a family wants to pack up their worldly belongings and move to another community, I really don’t care if their primary motive is to have a better opportunity in athletics or not. They moved, and moving is hard. That’s their business, not mine.

But if a family decides that a student is going to live in one town and go to school in another town, the IHSAA absolutely needs to do a comprehensive investigation into that transfer.

A primary objective of the IHSAA must be to create a fair and equitable playing field for sports to be played

Allowing families to send their kids to other schools without any accountability opens the door wide to openly recruiting players to transfer. Now, am I so dumb to think it doesn’t happen now? I am not.

But the IHSAA would be wise to see what’s happening now with the NCAA transfer and NIL processes.

It’s a full-blown, Grade A disaster, and everyone knows it.

High school kids are not to be shopped around to the highest bidder.

My hope is that the IHSAA will do its due diligence and conclude that it’s not a good idea.
That said, in that same meeting, the committee voted to allow member schools to add a second moratorium week to their school calendar.

In case you aren’t familiar with it, “Moratorium Week” is the week of the year that includes Independence Day in July. During that week, there cannot be any organized athletic activities — no open gyms, no team camps, no 7-on-7 scrimmages … nothing. It allows families to have one week of the year where they can do stuff together without worrying about athletic conflicts.

If you have read my work here in the paper, you know that I have been begging the IHSAA to make the moratorium two weeks long.

What the IHSAA did was approved each school to have a second week of no activities, and they are allowing the schools to decide what week that will be.

That’s really wise.

Maybe a school chooses the week before Independence Day, or maybe the week after. Or, maybe the last week in July, which is the last week before fall sports practices start.
But this allows each athletic director to poll his coaches and get their thoughts on what works best for them, and that means coaches are part of the process — and that’s always a good thing.

That’s good leadership.

That’s what gives me hope that they will get the transfer policy right, too.