The OHSAA receives more inquiries about 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 and the student attends a new 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).
If a student transfers at any time after the fifth day of the student’s ninth grade year or after having established eligibility prior to the start of school by playing in a contest (scrimmage, preview/jamboree, Foundation game or regular season/tournament contest), the student shall be eligible, insofar as transfer is concerned, for ONLY the first 50% of the maximum allowable regular season contests (including all scrimmages, preview/jamboree/Foundation games) in those sports in which the student participated (participation being defined as playing in a contest) during the 12 months immediately preceding this transfer. This transfer consequence shall remain in effect until the one-year anniversary of the date of enrollment in the school to which the student transferred, at which time the student is no longer considered a transfer student.
After the first 50% of the maximum allowable regular season contests have been competed, the student shall then become INELIGIBLE for the remainder of the regular season contests. Furthermore, the student shall also remain ineligible to participate in the OHSAA sponsored tournament(s) in those respective sports until the one-year anniversary of the student’s date of enrollment. A student who did not participate in an OHSAA recognized sport in the 12 months immediately preceding the transfer is not subject to the consequence of this transfer bylaw.
Notwithstanding the above, if a student transfers during the season of a sport in which he or she has participated in a regular season contest, and if Bylaw 4-7-3 requires that the student is ineligible for participation in the remainder of the contests in that sports season, the student shall remain ineligible for the remainder of all regular season contests, as well as the OHSAA tournament, in that sport at the school into which the student has transferred. Furthermore, the student shall finish fulfilling his/her transfer consequence, for ONLY that sport in which the mid-season transfer occurred, at the commencement of the sport season during the next school year. This consequence requires that the student shall remain ineligible for all pre-season contests (scrimmages, preview/jamboree, Foundation games) and all regular season contests until the total number of regular season contests missed (including those missed during the previous season) equals 50 percent of the maximum allowable regular season contests in that sport.
Note 1: For 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: ORC 3313.5312 (Ohio home educated students) has been intentionally left out of the exclusions of subpart (b) addressing students participating in programs where they are not enrolled. Once a home-educated student participates with a school sponsored squad of a school in which the student is not enrolled, the student’s eligibility is established at that school. Participating on any other schools’ sponsored squad will be considered a transfer for which the balance of this bylaw and its exception(s) would be applicable.
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 ELIGIBLE, insofar as transfer is concerned, for all pre-season contests and up through the first 50% of the maximum allowable regular season contests in that sport. The period of INELIGIBILITY begins at the second 50% of the maximum allowable regular season contests and continues through the OHSAA tournament in that respective sport OR 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:
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? If the answer is NO, then the transfer consequence is not applicable, and the student is fully eligible insofar as this bylaw is concerned. If the answer is YES, proceed to step #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. If the answer is NO, the student is fully eligible insofar as transfer is concerned for that respective sport at the new school and no paperwork or ruling is necessary. (Please note that if a student transfers back to a school in which they were previously enrolled, then their “lookback” review could include participation that took place at the same high school where they are now desiring a participation opportunity). If the answer is YES, then please proceed to step #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? If the answer is YES, the student meets an exception, then paperwork will be required, and the school administrator must seek a formal ruling from the OHSAA. The student may commence participation and is eligible, insofar as transfer is concerned, for all contests until the second 50% of the maximum allowable regular season contests begin. Once the student is ruled eligible in accordance with an exception, the transfer eligibility is restored for as long as the student maintains enrollment and attendance at that school. If the answer is NO, the student does not meet the requirements of an exception, the student may commence participation and is eligible, insofar as transfer is concerned, for all contests until the second 50% of the maximum allowable regular season contests begin. At that point, the student becomes ineligible for the second 50% of those contests AND the OHSAA tournament in that respective sport. In such a situation, no paperwork or ruling is required from the OHSAA. The student simply participates until the ineligibility commences as prescribed within the transfer bylaw.