NJSIAA considers new rules for student-athletes who transfer schools

The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association is expected to vote next week on new rules that would crack down on high school student athletes who transfer schools.

The association says many students transfer because they think that there will be better opportunities for sports scholarships.

"Football has become such big business that every kid thinks the opportunity may be better there," says St. Joseph's Montvale football coach Augie Hoffman.

New Jersey currently allows transferring schools only with proof of a true address change. But many say that the process is not working.

"It is becoming increasingly difficult to administer on a consistent basis. We can't," says NJSIAA Project Manager Michael Zapicchi.

The transfer of three brothers to Wayne Hills High School from Saint Joseph's Montvale recently highlighted the difficulties surrounding transferring. The students had to prove in court for high school sports that the family had actually moved. The family had an attorney, as well as the school and the athletic association.

The state now wants to get rid of that process and replace it with new rules. Anyone student who transfers would have to sit out a month or half of the games. Any student who transferred during a sports season would have to sit out a month and be banned from playoff games.

But not everyone thinks these new rules are fair to the students.

"If a family moves from Virginia and they decide to move to Newark, New Jersey, why should a child have to sit for 30 days?" asks NJ Assemblyman and Hackensack football coach Benjie Wimberly. "That just doesn't make a lot of sense to me."

He says families don't just transfer for sports. But for other reasons like money. 

"Students in particular in urban areas are very transient and that's regardless of if they're student athlete or not," Wimberly says.

Data has shown that of the 300,000 students in New Jersey less than 1 percent actually transfer schools. Zapicchi says the new rules target the few trying to break the rules and will help kids keep up in class. 

"We hope the students will use that period to get acclimated to their new school," he says.

The committee expected to vote on the rules is said to be made up of administrators from around the state. Two-thirds is required to approve the new rules.

The final vote is Feb. 8. Any result could then be heard by the state's education head.

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