There was a lot of reaction to my column of two weeks ago concerning the fallout from an upheld state law allowing students from unaccredited school districts to attend school in a neighboring district – even one in another county.
Normandy, Riverview Gardens and the Kansas City districts are now helpless to stop students who live in those respective districts from attending other schools. This includes athletes.
Jason West, Missouri State High School Activities Association communications director, contacted me to further explain a couple of things about this historic upcoming season. He also issued the stern warning that recruiting or “poaching” an athlete from one of the three unaccredited districts could lead to punishment of a coach or administrator and loss of eligibility for the player in question for the remainder of his or her prep career.
West said “undue influence” would not be allowed. Coaches and administrators “must refrain from recruitment, inducement or other forms of persuasion and undue influence which would encourage a student to enroll in a school primarily for interscholastic activities purposes,” according to MSHSAA regulations.
West also pointed out that I was incorrect in my assumption that private school student-athletes who live in unaccredited districts can now transfer to another school in another district and immediately be eligible to play a sport.
If that student is in 9th grade or higher in a private school, there would have to be an explanation as to why a transfer is being made.
It could be financial, geographic or other reason. But a student-athlete can’t just leave the private school and put on the jersey of a public school outside of the troubled district where he resides.
“There is a line between a school recruiting students and a school recruiting athletes,” West said.
“The bottom line is a student’s high school eligibility is tied to the school that they are attending (and) not the school district in which they live. There are ways to be immediately eligible following a transfer.”
I invite all athletes, parents and administrators who have questions to review this section of the MSHSAA Handbook. It contains information on the possible exceptions to the transfer rule.