High school sports rules changes to be voted on, and they could impact the ability of student-athletes to change schools

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association has, as we have been telling you, been busy with proposals that will bring significant change to high school sports starting this fall. We yesterday talked about reclassification – and we have an update on that for you later as well, by the way, as it pertains to Cedarcrest – but we want to spend some time now discussing the association’s proposed rules changes for this fall that high school sports adminstrators will be voting on this spring.

A select group of those adminstrators, called the Winter Coalition, met yesterday in Renton to fine-tune the proposed changes, and this year brings a package of proposals that many fans perhaps have been hoping for for many years dealing with residency and transfer regulations for high school athletes. These proposed changes come in the wake of a couple of high-profile transfer and recruiting scandals involving public high school teams in recent years – the Bellevue football recruiting issues of a few years ago and the Chief Sealth girls’ basketball recruiting scandal from over a decade ago.

The biggest of the four-proposal package of changes concerns transfers. The proposal, #11 overall on the package of proposals adminstrators will be voting on, would amend WIAA rule 18.11.5 dealing with transferring students. It would bar athletes who transfer from a school to another regardless of a physical change of residence if the school the athlete is transferring to has a coach or another player in that sport program there who the transferring student worked or played with in non-school sports activities (i.e. club sports, such as AAU basketball, ASA softball, American Legion baseball, select soccer, etc.) from playing for that new team for one year. This rule would also extend that new one-year blackout period to athletes who transfer to a school where they have received other instruction, including weight training and conditioning. The intent of this rule change, submitted by the WIAA’s Executive Board, is to eliminate recruiting advantages for certain schools.

Among the other proposed changes, they include the following:

-Students who live in “choice” districts and attend a high school in that district outside of their assigned school of residence would have to maintain enrollment at that school regardless of any change of residence within the district. This will impact Kingco to some degree, specifically Bellevue, Lake Washington and Northshore school district student-athletes. An example: In Bellevue, a player who lives in east Bellevue, in the Sammamish HS attendance area, but chooses to attend Newport HS, would have to stay at Newport for the full four years even if the family changes residence within the district. This amendment was offered by several schools, including Kingco’s Lake Washington and Inglemoor High Schools.

-Establishing a so-called “transfer window” for students who want to transfer schools withour a physical change of residence. This “window” would, for both Snoqualmie Valley and Riverview School Districts, be between the eighth and ninth-grade years for student athletes, but for other districts who use a 10-11-12 high school grade format, be between the ninth and 10th grade years. Athletes who fall under this rule would only be eligbile during this window without needing any additional clearance from the school or athletic districts. This proposal was also offered by the schools mentioned above.

-A change in private school residency rules. Currently, the rules establish a 50-mile radius for students to play for a private school team. The proposed change would require continued enrollment at that private school for student-athletes whose families change residence within the 50-mile radius. For example, there are a number of kids on Snoqualmie Ridge who attend various private schools – Bellevue Christian, Eastside Catholic, Forest Ridge for example, all which are well within the 50-mile territory from those campuses. If their families choose to relocate from the Ridge to another Valley community or closer into town such as Bellevue or Issaquah, the kids would have to continue to attend that private school in order to retain eligibility for athletic competition. This proposal, too, was submitted by the schools.

The fourth proposal that is part of this is primairily aimed at an eastern Washington boarding school which draws in a number of out-of-state – and foreign – students and would not impact either Mount Si or Cedarcrest High Schools.

This series of proposals are not the only major proposals set to be considered.

Basketball, volleyball seasons expanding?
Among the other proposals include the following:

-Extending the basketball season from 20 to 24 games, which would allow for stronger league scheduling while allowing teams to continue to schedule holiday tournaments. A proposal such as this one will benefit both Mount Si and Cedarcrest, allowing them to play full league schedules if required and still maintain holiday tournament options.

-Extending the volleyball season to 18 matches. Again, this would help promote stronger non-league scheduling for teams, and might allow for Kingco in particular to go to a round-robin league schedule for its matches – currently, they are only able to play one match against each other in league play.

-The high school basketball shot clock to become uniform for both boys and girls – 30 seconds

-A change in contact rules for two-a-day football practices, which happen primarily in the preseason, to only allow for contact during one of the two practices.

Adminstrators will vote on these proposals starting April 23. Valley high school adminstrators likely to participate include Cedarcrest High School athletic director Jason Frederick and Mount Si High School athletic director Darren Brown, along with MSHS assistant principal – and former AD – Greg Hart. Principals at both schools, CHS’ Ray LaBate and MSHS’ John Belcher, are also likely to have a say in whether these proposals pass muster.

Rhett Workman

About Rhett Workman

Rhett Workman is the editor of the Snoqualmie Valley Sports Journal. Workman is a veteran sports journalist, having covered Snoqualmie Valley sports for nearly a decade with the Snoqualmie Valley Record newspaper before starting up the SVSJ. Workman's coverage has earned the support and respect of Valley coaches, players, parents and fans, and the SVSJ continues the standard of coverage that Workman brought to the Valley Record.
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