Hot Topic All-Met Sports

Eligibility changes being considered could alter DCIAA athletics

By Alan Goldenbach
Thursday, August 19, 2010

Dramatic changes to eligibility guidelines could be coming to the D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association, according to Executive Director Marcus Ellis.

Students will have to sit out a year of athletic competition if they transfer from one DCIAA school to another without a change in primary residence or extenuating circumstances.

Students will have four consecutive years to complete their athletic eligibility.

Stricter guidelines will be imposed for Ellis's office to sanction schools for compliance with the standards of competition as established by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).

All D.C. Public Schools rules - including those for the DCIAA - are part of Title 5 of the D.C. Municipal Regulations (DCMR), which are overseen by the D.C. Council. Ellis, who just completed his first year on the job this week, said he expects the Council to receive the proposal within the next month.

The transfer policy would be the most jarring to the DCIAA status quo. The city's policy of out-of-boundary transfers that allows students to apply to move from school to school for any reason has created competitive imbalance in several sports.

Ellis said the policy will remain that students can opt to enroll in any school when they begin ninth grade, even if it is out of their home boundary. Furthermore, if students want to return to the school that is in their home zone during their high-school career, they may do so without penalty.

"The process of kids transferring from school to school doesn't benefit their academics," he said. "I don't like kids transferring either to win a championship or to follow a coach. That's not putting education first."

Ellis said he had no idea the 10-semester policy, which allows students five years to complete four years of athletic eligibility, still existed when he took over last year, but after discussions with other athletic administrators across the country, he said, "We were the only jurisdiction with that particular rule in place. Our student-athletes don't benefit from playing [in high school] what should be their freshman year in college. It doesn't benefit them academically."

Finally, Ellis would like to impose stricter guidelines on the schools his office sanctions as being compliant with the standards of competition established by the NFHS. This, he said, came as a result of some D.C. public charter schools gaining his sanctioning last school year, and then allowing students either over the city's age limit or in their fifth year of competition to suit up.

© 2010 The Washington Post Company