State educators look to even playing field by scrapping transfer policy for high school student athletes

SALT LAKE CITY – High school athletes in Utah could play one sport at one school, and in the same week play a different sport at a different school. That’s if a proposal by the State Board of Education passes.

Right now, student athletes can switch schools at any time, but they have to sit out for a year before they’re eligible to play a sport. The rule was put in place by the Utah High School Athletics Association.

“It kind of puts them on unequal footing with their classmates in their new schools,” said David Crandall, Chair of the State Board of Education.

Crandall is proposing schools drop that restriction. Students would then be allowed to play any sport, at any school, at-will.

“You might have students that play football at one school, basketball at another, and baseball at completely another, then in the fall enroll in a fourth school to play,” said Ryan Bishop, Assistant Director for Utah High School Activities Association.

But UHSAA says an open policy will have far-reaching implications beyond sports. Academically, if a student can transfer athletically multiple times in any given year, it could really cause some chaos within our schools.

Crandall also cited concerns from administrators at Mountain Crest High School. Because UHSAA denied the 5A school’s request to become as 3A classification, they’re appealing to the state school board.

Some critics question Crandall’s motive. He’s also a board member of Summit Academy. Last spring, UHSAA penalized the Draper charter school for recruiting violations. The fear is some public schools may lose out with an open policy.

“The rule would apply equally to all public schools, whether they're district schools or charter schools,” Crandall said.

Both parties say they’re optimistic they can come to an agreement that will hopefully benefit all student-athletes.

“We're all about participation and opportunities, but it's also a fine line of trying to maintain rules that our Board of Trustees and executive board has set to maintain competitive balance and fair play as well,” Bishop said.

The state school board is meeting Thursday, September 8 to discuss the proposal. Click here for details on the meeting agenda.