Bylaw 4-3-1 states, “All students participating in a school-sponsored sport must be enrolled in and attending full-time in accordance with all duly adopted Board of Education or similar governing board policies of that school.” There are seven exceptions to this Bylaw. Exception six (6) refers to state law, and the four categories of students that are covered and have a participation opportunity at the public school in the parents' district of residence are:
Here are the most common questions the OHSAA receives in regard to non-enrolled students:
1. Are home-educated students living in our school district eligible for athletics at our public school?
Yes, but first you want to make sure the student is indeed home-educated by confirming with the superintendent of the public-school district in which the student’s family resides that the student has been excused from compulsory attendance. This will also confirm that the family resides in your district and you will be able to determine the grade in school, which is important for tracking semesters of eligibility. The student must be eligible in all other aspects (scholarship, age, transfer, etc.). If the sport that a home educated student wishes to play is not sponsored by the public school in the residential district, the student MAY be permitted to participate at the public school in another school district subject to the sole discretion of that district's superintendent. If this situation transpires, please see question 5 for important information.
If a student claims they are home-educated but you are unable to confirm this with your superintendent, see question 2.
Note: Please refer to the business rules for students who are seeking an opportunity in a multiple high school public school district. https://ohsaaweb.blob.core.windows.net/files/Eligibility/BusinessRulesMultiHSPublic.pdf
2. Are students living in our school district who enter community (which may also be online) or STEM schools eligible for athletics at our public school?
A student who attends one of Ohio's more than 500 community schools, whether digital or brick-and-mortar, shall, in accordance with state law, have a participation opportunity - not a guarantee – ONLY at the public school in the parents' residential district. The student must be eligible in all other aspects (scholarship, age, transfer, semesters, etc.).
Online digital academies, such as Ohio Virtual Academy, Ohio Connections Academy, etc., are actually community public schools, approved by the Ohio Department of Education. Students who attend these online public schools are NOT home-educated, even though they may be receiving their education at home. State law permits these students to have a participation opportunity - not a guarantee - ONLY at the public school in the parents' district of residence and only if the community school does not sponsor the sport. If the public school in the parents' district of residence does not offer the sport, then the community or STEM school student simply has no participation opportunity. The student must be eligible in all other aspects (scholarship, age, transfer, etc.). Administrators in a multiple high school district should refer to the business rules for multiple high school districts when making an eligibility determination. And, as always, please contact the OHSAA office for clarification.
3. Where are students who attend non-public schools in Ohio eligible to participate if their school does not offer a specific sport?
A student who attends a non-public school in Ohio, whose parents reside in Ohio, shall have a participation opportunity - not a guarantee – at the public school the student is entitled to attend pursuant to ORC 3313.64 or 3313.65. A student who attends a non-public school may also have a participation opportunity at the public school located in the school district in which the non-public school is located (if different than the residential district) subject to the mutual agreement between the superintendent of the school district in which the student is entitled to attend and the superintendent of the school district in which the student is seeking to participate. Of course, this participation opportunity applies ONLY if his/her non-public school does not sponsor the specific sport. The student must be eligible in all other aspects (scholarship, age, transfer, semesters, etc.). If the public school in either the parents' district of residence or in the district where the non-public school is located does not offer the sport, then the student simply has no participation opportunity.
Once a student has commenced participation either at the public school located in the district of residence of the parents, or at the public school located in the district where the non-public school is located (should those two schools be different), then that student's eligibility to participate in those sports in which the student's non-public school does not offer shall remain at that respective school for the duration of the school year, regardless of what sports that school may or may not offer. For the subsequent year, should the student decide to transfer his/her eligibility to the other school at which they also have a participation opportunity, no transfer consequence shall apply in accordance with the ORC.
4. A student attends a non-public high school that does not offer a particular sport (e.g. swimming) and thus commences participation at the public high school in her parents’ residential district. She has trained with that school and has started regular season competition as a member of that school’s team. In January, her non-public school of attendance decides to offer that particular sport (swimming and diving) for two individual students and registers the sport on myohsaa declaring the desire to participate in the OHSAA tournament. What is the status of the student who is already participating for the public high school in her district of residence, and is the non-public school permitted to enter the tournament when students from its school are already participating with a different school team?
Although perhaps an unusual situation as well as one certainly not contemplated under existing state law, Bylaw 4-7-3 will not permit this student to return to her school of attendance and participate in this sport during the current season. However, the OHSAA does not want the student to be denied the opportunity to continue her participation in swimming. Therefore, the student shall be permitted to continue her participation at the public high school. There is nothing in the OHSAA Constitution, Bylaws, Sports Regulations or business rules that would preclude the non-public high school from offering the sport for those individuals even after the season has already commenced and other students have exercised their options under statute to participate at the public high school of residence. However, due to a number of policy considerations, a non-public school shall not be permitted to enter its team or individuals in the OHSAA sponsored tournament if and when students from that school are participating at the public school because, at the beginning of the sport season, the non-public school did not offer that sport to its students.
5. Are home-educated/non-public school/community/STEM school students who are NOT living in our school district eligible for athletics at our public school?
6. The public school my student attends does not offer a certain sport. Are students who want to play that sport eligible at a different school?
For a 'conventional' public school, NO. Bylaw 4-3-1 indicates that a student must be enrolled and attending full-time to have the privilege of athletic participation. Exception 6 of Bylaw 4-3-1 indicates that there is an exception in accordance with state law. The students who have an opportunity to participate on different school teams in accordance with state law are those who reside in a district and are students who attend the following types of schools: non-public schools, community schools and STEM schools. Students who are home schooled and live in a school district also have an opportunity to participate on those school teams. The language in the state law is not written to include students who attend conventional public schools that do not have a participation opportunity. Remember that the opportunity for non-enrolled students is at the residential public school ONLY, with the two exceptions cited – home educated students and non-public school students.
7. Is there paperwork that needs submitted to the OHSAA if a student plays sports for a public school based on the O.R.C.?
There is no paperwork that needs to be submitted to the OHSAA if the student is eligible based on the O.R.C. If the student is eligible in all regards, scholarship, age, transfer, etc., and has had a physical exam in the past year, there is nothing the OHSAA can do to "deny" the participation opportunity, thus no paperwork or request needs to be submitted. It is advised, however, that you get written verification from the student’s former school that he/she did not play sports in the 12 months immediately preceding the “transfer” into your school. If the student did play a sport in the immediately preceding 12 months, then he/she MAY be subject to the consequence of the transfer bylaw in each respective sport.
8. Do home-educated/non-public school/community school/STEM school students who live in a multiple high school district get to choose at which school they would like to participate?
No. Students who live in a multiple high school district must compete at the school the student would have been assigned to attend, or the school closest to the residence of the parents. See business rules for this participation here: https://ohsaaweb.blob.core.windows.net/files/Eligibility/BusinessRulesMultiHSPublic.pdf
9. Our school has to make “cuts” to keep team sizes manageable. Are we required to keep non-enrolled students on our team according to the O.R.C?
No. A non-enrolled student is afforded the same opportunity as enrolled students; they are not entitled to a greater opportunity. Non-enrolled students, in accordance with state law, have the opportunity to try out for a team, but the law does not ensure that a student cannot be cut from a team if cuts are made.
10. What other questions should I ask when determining if a home-educated/non-public school/community/STEM school student is eligible for athletics?
"Have you participated in any sports in the immediately preceding 12 months at another school?" If the answer is yes, the student may be considered a transfer student and may have to meet an exception to become immediately eligible. If the student does not meet a transfer exception, the student shall be permitted to begin participation in contests, insofar as transfer is concerned. After the first 50% of the maximum allowable varsity regular season contests have been competed (regardless of the participation level of the student), the student shall then become INELIGIBLE for the remainder of the regular season contests at all levels. 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. Have a school administrator contact the OHSAA's eligibility department if you need assistance in determining which exception this student may be able to meet as well as how to configure the consequence if the student does not meet an exception.
The most comprehensive guidance for these guidelines can be found at: https://ohsaaweb.blob.core.windows.net/files/Eligibility/GuidelinesForNon-EnrolledStudents.pdf