The number of transfers from student-athletes within the Rock Hill school district have gone down from last year.
Rock Hill's three high schools put into place intradistrict transfer rules, effective Jan. 1, requiring that high school athletes who want to transfer solely for athletic reasons to sit out a year.
Under the rules, any student-athlete who has a change of address within the district, from the second semester of eighth grade through their senior year of high school, are ineligible to participate in sports for a year.
The rule also allows student-athletes transferring for legitimate reasons to appeal their 365-day wait period to a five-person panel.
There are hardship rules in place that will allow students to move schools and play sports immediately – unforeseen catastrophes, parents’ divorce, homelessness and 12 other stipulations available on page 11 of the bylaws in the South Carolina High School League handbook.
Since the rule was enacted, the district has had seven appeals, said Mychal Frost, spokesperson for Rock Hill schools. Two appeals have been approved and five students have been denied eligibility to play sports for a year.
Overall, high school transfers within the district are down 36 percent from last year, Frost said.
However, it is unclear if the decrease is directly related to the new rules, said John Bramlet, Northwestern High School boys’ basketball head coach.
“From all indications, transfers are down,” Bramlett said. “Kids can’t move around as easily as they could.”
The district passed the rule after learning of a trend where some Rock Hill school district student-athletes have been holding reveal parties, similar to families revealing the sex of their unborn child, to announce what high school they will attend, said Kelly Pew, superintendent of Rock Hill schools.
Luanne Kokolis, associate superintendent for Rock Hill schools, said the district has seen many transfers specifically for athletics.
“We are trying to get a handle on student movement for the purpose of playing sports,” she said. “These guidelines have been put in place to limit that type of activity and to make sure our students are attending the school they are zoned for, and limit student movement as it relates to being part of an athletic program.”
Bramlett said he worries the rule will punish students whose families move for legitimate reasons, as the appeal has to be granted for them to play sports.
“Those kids are going to be punished for a small percentage of people who are trying to circumvent the rules,” he said. “That still concerns me coming from a parental perspective.”
While transfers are down, the district catch everyone, said Lauren West, Northwestern High School athletic director.
“I’m sure the policy has deterred some of that in our district, but we can’t keep everybody honest,” she said. “I’m well aware there are families out there that are still circumventing the system.”
I’m well aware there are families out there that are still circumventing the system.
Lauren West, Northwestern High School athletic director
West said one way families get around the rule is by listing false addresses with the district and providing false documentation.
“The only thing we can do is look into the ones that have been brought to our attention,” she said.
Amanda Harris: 803-329-4082
Intradistrict transfer rule
▪ Any student who has an in-district transfer of address (any type change of address) during the second semester of the eighth grade through 12th grade year of school will result in ineligibility to participate in sports for 365 days from the date of the change of address.
▪ An appeal of eligibility may be made to the Athletic Appeals Committee within five days of ineligibility notification. The Appeals Committee is made up of the three principals from Northwestern, Rock Hill and South Pointe high schools, and the associate superintendent for athletics, Luanne Kokolis.
▪ High school coaches will no longer meet with middle school athletes in the spring of their eighth grade year. All athletic notices will be mailed to middle school students from the high school athletic offices.
▪ High school coaches attending middle school events will attend as spectators. High school coaches will not be permitted on the middle school event sidelines, in locker rooms or in team meeting spaces. High school coaches will not talk with middle school athletes or address middle school teams.
▪ No middle school student or rising ninth-grade student should try out for a high school team unless the student resides in the high school zone at the time of the tryout.
▪ No middle school student or rising ninth-grade student should practice with a team or work out with a team unless he/she resides in the high school zone at the time of the workout or practice.
▪ If a coach, assistant coach or volunteer coach is found to be recruiting, or utilizing others in the community to recruit, he/she will be subject to losing his/her coaching position.