WEST ORANGE - State Sen. Richard Codey wants to penalize athletes who repeat a grade in middle school to gain an athletic advantage in high school.
The practice is called "red-shirting," which is when a student athlete is held back for the purpose of gaining an athletic advantage.
"I've been a youth coach for about 18 years now and too often in the sixth or seventh grade, the other team is warming up and see hair all over the kids legs and you say to yourself, 'wait a minute,' and yup, yeah he was held back," says Codey.
Codey is aiming to make an even playing field for student athletes throughout the state in both middle and high school.
He is pushing for a law that limits students to just three years of high school sports eligibility if they are held back between sixth and eighth grade, despite being academically on track.
"If you're one grade behind, that physical maturity is huge and in a way it's cheating and it's not right," says Codey. "You're sending the wrong signals to that child that says academics, no they're second, first is athletics and that's wrong."
Red-shirting has been a growing trend nationwide within the last 10 to 15 years. In New Jersey alone, athletes such as Karl-Anthony Towns, Isaiah Briscoe, and Josh Mckenzie have done it.
Codey plans to introduce the bill later this month or in early November.