The District of Columbia Statewide Athletics Association finalized a new rule Monday that will force transferring students in the District to sit out a year before competing in athletic competition at their new school.
The new transfer rule, which went into effect on Thursday, will allow ninth grade students to transfer once during their freshman year without penalty – but will force all other transfer students in the 10th, 11th and 12th grade to sit out a calendar year before participating in athletics at public schools in the District.
Transfers can seek exceptions to the rule, including a waiver that would give athletic eligibility to a public school student moving to a new “bona fide permanent residence in the District of Columbia,” according to rule 2701.3 in the revamped DCSAA Athletic Rules.
“We’ve been working on this since December,” DCSAA Director of Athletics Clark Ray said Monday evening, adding that the process of amending the rule was “grinding and grueling.” “The District is taking another step forward in ensuring that there is a level playing field of competition for our student athletes,” he said.
While Ray was hesitant to call the new rule “significant,” he believes the measure will bring parity to the city’s athletic departments. District of Columbia Public Schools Athletic Director Stephanie Evans welcomed the news of the new amendment Monday, and agrees with Ray’s sentiment.
“I think that it’s a good thing, and that it will bring some parity within DCPS, particularly for some of our small schools,” said Evans, whose department revamped the structure of DCIAA football competition earlier this year in an effort to create more balance. “The schools that were the beneficaries of getting large numbers of transfers every year, obviously, they are going to feel the most impact most immediately.”
Ray’s office, just two years old, has vowed to monitor transfers and eligibility issues within the schools in the conference, and has already placed two high school football coaches on year-long probation as a result of controversial transfers in the past three months. In those instances, Ray found that Friendship Collegiate football assistant Khenny Wonson and Ballou Coach Jason Lane attempted to influence students from other schools to transfer for athletic purposes.
Before the amended transfer rule, students within the city were allowed to change schools without athletic penalty, while incoming students from other areas had to meet certain stipulations to compete in a DCPS school. The new rule will be applied to all incoming student-athletes in the District.
For inner-city schools trying to cultivate athletic departments, the new rule will likely have far-reaching affects, said Sonny Price, who is in his first year as head football coach at Phelps. The charter school in Northeast will field a football team for the first time since the late 1990s, and this rule will discourage young student-athletes from transferring to more established schools in the area, Price said. But he’s still unsure about the longevity of the rule.
“Everybody is just trying to get the huge kid and not developing these other kids,” Price said. “It’s going to be beneficial once we can see it work. But right now, we can’t see it.”