The OHSAA receives more inquiries about eligibility in terms of the transfer bylaw than any other aspect of eligibility. Unfortunately, we perhaps should receive more, as invariably an administrator has made his/her own call that later results in forfeiture or worse. Reach out when in doubt!
A student is considered to have transferred whenever (a) enrollment is changed from one school to another school, or (b) the student participates in a practice, scrimmage or contest with a school-sponsored squad of a school in which the student has not been enrolled unless the non-enrolled student’s participation is pursuant to O.R.C. §§ 3313.5311 (Ohio non-public school students), or 3313.537 (Ohio community/STEM school students). It is not necessary for the school sponsored squad in (b) above to have been an OHSAA member school squad for the student to have been considered to have ‘transferred.”
If a student transfers at any time after the fifth day of the student’s ninth grade year or after having established eligibility by playing in a contest (scrimmage, preview/jamboree, Foundation game or regular season/tournament contests), until the one year anniversary of the date of enrollment in the school to which the student transferred, the student shall be ineligible for all contests (including all scrimmages, preview/jamboree/Foundation game) until after the first 50% of the maximum allowable* regular season contests in those sports in which the student participated (participation being defined as playing in a interscholastic contest) during the 12 months immediately preceding this transfer have been competed. Once eligibility is restored, the student shall be eligible for no more than 50% of the maximum allowable contests, quarters, halves or points which are permitted in any recognized sport. Maximum allowable DOES NOT MEAN what you have on your regular season schedule if the number of such contests is less than the “maximum allowable” permitted by Sport Regulations.
Note #1 –For the purposes of this bylaw, a student is considered to have participated in a sport if he/she has entered, if for only one play, a scrimmage or contests at any level of competition/contests (e.g. freshman, junior varsity and varsity).
Note #2 – If a student transfers during the season of a sport in which he or she has participated, and Bylaw 4-7-3 requires that the student is ineligible for participation in the remainder of the contests in that sports season, at the commencement of that sport during the next school year, the student remains ineligible for the pre-season contests (scrimmages, preview/jamboree, Foundation game) and up to 50% of the regular season contests in that sport. The total number of regular season contests for which the student will be ineligible is a function of the number of regular season contests in which he or she was ineligible in accordance with 4-7-3.
Note #3: Regarding state law permitting non-enrolled students to participate for the public schools in their residential districts, the definition of transfer is applicable only to the specific sport that the student played at the school in which the student was not enrolled. When that student returns to the enrolled school to participate in a different sport, the transfer bylaw does not apply.
In the event of a student transfer, no ruling is required from the Executive Director’s Office, and no paperwork is necessary if that student’s transfer does not meet an exception to the transfer bylaw or if the student did not participate in any OHSAA recognized sport at any high school in the 12 months immediately preceding the transfer into the new high school. Understanding that basic rule is fundamental to dealing with transfer students.
Of course, in our society today, students do indeed change schools for various reasons. The member schools have identified a few transfer scenarios that they recognize should be exempted from the general transfer bylaw. To deal with those limited scenarios our member schools have adopted 11 exceptions, one of which MAY apply to a student who changes high schools. The use of the word MAY is instructive since not all transfer students can meet one of these exceptions and for each of these exceptions (unless no ruling is required as in exception 3), the transfer student is INELIGIBLE until ruled eligible by the Executive Director’s Office. For a student to avail herself/himself of one of these exceptions, action on the part of the member school administrator as well as the OHSAA staff is required. The purpose of this series on the Transfer Bylaw is to provide guidance as to the required action on each of the exceptions, if applicable.
This bylaw requires the administrator to determine the following:
1. Is the student a transfer student? In other words, did the student change schools after establishing eligibility by playing in a high school contest prior to the start of the 9th grade or after the 5th day of the 9th grade year?
2. Did the student play an OHSAA sport at ANY high school in the 12 months immediately preceding the date of transfer into the new high school? Get this information in writing from an administrator at the previous school or schools. Note that this could apply to a student who returns to the same high school at which the participation occurred during that immediately preceding 12 months.
3. If the answer to both #1 and #2 is YES, then Does the student meet one of the 11 enumerated exceptions to this bylaw?