AURORA – As club sports continue to grow in presence and importance in Colorado and nationally, the line between them and high school sports now also crosses more frequently.
The Colorado High School Activities Association addressed that issue Thursday at its first of two annual meetings, altering its current transfer rule to include a provision that directly impacts a student-athlete who changes schools to play for his/her club or “outside” coach.
The 67-member Board of Control, the CHSAA’s legislative body, voted 55-12 to make ineligible for a year any student-athlete who transfers to a school whose club or “outside” coach is contracted as coach in that sport at that school.
The proposal was offered to discourage athletically motivated transfers and to strengthen a transfer rule that continues to be massaged. The rule currently forces student-athletes who transfer, without a bona fide family move, to miss half the varsity contests at the new school.
“This is a bold, philosophical statement that separates club sports from high school sports,” said Mountain View High School principal Kevin Aten, who also identified himself as a board member of a club soccer program. “High school sports are about fair play and participation, and it’s important that we keep it that way.”
CHSAA Commissioner Bill Reader said the proposal, which was introduced by the association’s Executive Committee, was “not as a result of any current situation,” but was offered to help schools in the future.
“When kids transfer to play for a club coach it goes against the educational focus we have established, and we want to discourage that,” said Reader, who speculated that the number of club coaches in high school programs is significant. “We haven’t seen a large number of these kinds of transfers yet, but we want to make sure it doesn’t become a bigger issue.”
No one spoke in opposition of the proposal, and several metro-area athletic directors expressed support afterward for the change. All echoed Reader’s sentiment that although it currently isn’t a major problem, this will help them alleviate any potential conflicts in the future. One athletic director speculated that high school coaches who double as club coaches might welcome the change, too, because of the several issues such a transfer raises for the coach and high school program.
The BOC also passed another proposal (on a vote of 49-18) that would make a student-athlete who transfers solely for athletic considerations ineligible for a year.
Other items of note addressed by the BOC:
· The current no Sunday contact rule between players and coaches was relaxed, to allow contact for a “social, academic or service related activity that is strictly voluntary” as well as non-competitive.
· Football players now will be allowed to wear helmets during summer 7-on-7 competition.
· Class A 6-Man football teams that drop their programs for or during a season will not automatically be restricted from participating in the playoffs the following season or during the next two-year cycle. The CHSAA commissioner may now review the circumstances regarding the reasons for the program drop, such as fluctuating enrollment, and allow immediate reinstatement. Class A 6-Man advocates argued automatic exclusion from the playoffs essentially kills their programs.
· Also in football, Class A 6-Man will play crossover games in Week 9, featuring the top four teams in each league; in A 8-Man, the winners of the Week 9 crossover games will be seeded instead of being placed in a predetermined 16-team bracket; the four wild-card qualifiers in 2A may now come from any league; in 3A the seven league champions and the top wild-card qualifier will receive a top-eight seed and a first-round home playoff game, and the 16-team state field will be seeded; the top 16 qualifiers in the 5A state bracket will be locked in, while teams Nos. 17-32 may move up or down one seed to avoid a league opponent in the first round; also in 5A, the higher-seeded team will be the home team from the quarterfinals through the state championship.
· Geography will be used as the primary consideration when first-round playoff brackets and postseason tournaments are established. The rationale is to help schools cut costs given the current economic climate.
· Class 2A baseball will not move its state tournament to Memorial Day, remaining a week before the Class 5A, 4A and 3A events.
· In soccer, softball and volleyball playoff regions/districts were adjusted to accommodate reclassification.
· New teams were added in lacrosse for the next two-year cycle and changes were made to existing leagues to accommodate those teams. Girls lacrosse will expand from 41 to 50 schools (and the playoff field will grow from 17 to 20 teams), while boys lacrosse will add four schools to bring its total to 63 teams. Girls lacrosse also adopted a national rule so that games do not end in a tie.
· Four new schools – Lake City (located 60 miles southwest of Gunnison), CIVA (Colorado Springs), Collegiate Academy (Littleton) and Belleview Christian (Westminster) – were added for the upcoming two-year cycle. Collegiate Academy and CIVA will be Class 2A for basketball, while Belleview Christian and Lake City will compete at the Class A level.
· Current CHSAA Associate Commissioner Paul Angelico will replace the retiring Reader as the association’s next commissioner. Angelico has been in his current position for six years and with the CHSAA for 18 years overall. He will be the eighth commissioner in the CHSAA’s 89 years.
Follow MaxPreps Colorado editor Gerry Valerio on Twitter for Colorado high school sports updates.