2018-07-05 / Sports

MHSAA adopts revised transfer regulations

Baseball regional winner will win Super Regional trophy


High school basketball coaches will get a 28-foot coaching box this season, an increase of the standard 14-foot coaching box. Photo by Austin VanDaele High school basketball coaches will get a 28-foot coaching box this season, an increase of the standard 14-foot coaching box. Photo by Austin VanDaele EAST LANSING – The adoption of major changes to the Michigan High School Athletic Association transfer regulation was among notable actions taken by the Representative Council during its annual Spring Meeting, May 6-7, in Gaylord, in addition to the selection of the Association’s next executive director announced in a previous release May 8.

The Spring Meeting of the 19-member legislative body of the Association’s more than 1,400 member schools is generally the busiest of its three sessions each year. The Council considered 29 committee proposals and dealt with a variety of eligibility rule, postseason tournament and operational issues.

The revised transfer regulation will go into effect for the 2019-20 school year, based on a student-athlete’s sports participation during 2018-19. The new transfer rule will make transferring student-athletes ineligible for one year in any sport played during the previous year at the previous school – unless that student-athlete’s situation fits one of the current 15 exceptions that allow for immediate eligibility. However, the revised transfer regulation also allows that transferring student-athlete immediate eligibility in any other MHSAAsponsored sport not participated in during that previous year at the previous school.

The additions to the transfer rule received vast support from member schools in surveys leading up to the Council’s vote.

“We are hopeful this ‘sport-specific’ transfer rule will be easier to understand, and therefore, more consistently enforced,” MHSAA Executive Director John E. “Jack” Roberts said. “This rule better addresses the changing landscape of transfers, hopefully dissuading those considering moving for athletic reasons while still allowing a full range of sports for those who do switch. It may seem like a punishment to some, but the new rule is actually more permissive for many transfer students, and we saw growing support for these changes from our schools since we began discussing this proposal a year ago.”

Junior high/middle school actions

A number of significant actions at the Spring Meeting will affect the junior high/middle school levels, as the Council continued growing its impact among those who represent the future of educational athletics.

The Council approved Junior High/ Middle School Committee recommendations to increase the number of contests and days of competition in three sports, beginning in 2018-19. Softball teams will have 12 days of competition over 13 weeks, with doubleheaders counting as one of those 12 days. Basketball teams may play 12 games over 13 weeks with one game a day allowed, except that two games may be played on a day not followed by a school day up to four times a season; each of those doubleheader days will count as one of the 12 games. Soccer teams may play 12 games over 13 weeks with one game a day allowed, except that two games may be played on a day not followed by a school day up to two times a season; each of those doubleheader days also will count as one of the 12 games.

Another committee recommendation approved by the Council will allow a middle school student-athlete to compete in two non-school events during the school season in team sports except football – making the rule for team sports at the junior high/middle school level the same as the individual sport model currently enforced.

The Council also approved of continuing to develop and expand opportunities for the MHSAA to act as a “presenting sponsor” of already-existing junior high/middle school meets, invitationals and tournaments conducted by leagues, conferences and schools around Michigan. Staff was authorized to approach MHSAA sport committees and sport coaches association to explore possible junior high/middle school area or sectional competitions in cross country, track & field, wrestling, swimming & diving and potentially other sports.

“The Representative Council continued to consider ways to better serve the youngest student-athletes in our membership – the junior high/middle school participants who are the future of high school sports,” Roberts said. “While these actions may not gain as much attention as changes at the high school level, they are just as important if not more critical to the status of educational athletics moving forward. Nurturing this youngest level must continue to be a focus in the years to come as we work to strengthen and provide more opportunities at all levels.”

High school sports changes adopted

The Council approved a number of recommendations by respective sport committees that will alter the tournament setup beginning this fall. In ice hockey, the Pre-Regional system of tournament assignments has been eliminated; all teams will instead be organized into traditional Regionals, 24 total with no more than eight teams assigned to each. In boys’ lacrosse, a game will end when an 18-goal margin is reached any time after the completion of the third quarter; the 12-goal differential that starts a running clock during the second half will continue.

In soccer, beginning with the 2019 season, the first round of District games will be required to be played the week before the current District week on that Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. District Semifinals and Finals will be scheduled for the following week – but Saturday games can be used only as a weather backup during the District round.

Nontraditional draws for district and regional tournaments

To better assist with scheduling and provide transportation relief, the Council approved a number of adjustments to the non-traditional draw policies for District and Regional tournaments; non-traditional draws do not require all contests be played as a designated host site, assisting primarily teams that might be located far from their tournament host but closer to their opponent(s). For the 2018-19 MHSAA Basketball and Volleyball Tournaments, non-traditional draws will be mandated for Districts made up of (a) all Upper Peninsula teams, (b) a combination of Upper and Lower Peninsula teams, or (c) seven or eight-team District grouping in any location of the state. In Districts with circumstances (a) and (b), a traditional draw may be conducted if all participating teams agree to that format. At the Regional level, any that include more than one District located in the Upper Peninsula will require geographic neutral sites be used. The Council also authorized a work group to review all aspects of non-traditional draws and all affected sports and report at the Council’s Fall meeting this Nov. 30.

Other sport-specific actions:

• In baseball, the Council approved a committee recommendation altering tournament trophies to match the tournament format previously approved to begin with the 2019 season. Starting that spring, baseball teams will play what previously were Quarterfinals as the final game of a “Super Regional” tournament, and trophies awarded to those 16 winners will read “Super Regional Champion.” Trophies awarded to losing teams in that round will read “Regional Champion” as they still will have won the Regional level of the tournament.

• In basketball, the Council approved a committee recommendation to adopt the 28-foot coaching box for competition allowed under National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) rules. Previously, the MHSAA allowed for a 14-foot coaches box in front of the team’s bench.

• In competitive cheer, the Council approved four committee recommendations. The first allows junior high/middle school athletes to perform an inverted exit-cradle to back walkover out only. At the high school level, any catch that originates from shoulder level or below and transitions from a vertical body position to a horizontal body position now will require only three catchers, while four catchers are still required for any catch that exceeds shoulder level.

Clarification

The new transfer rule will make transferring student-athletes ineligible for one year in any sport played during the previous year at the previous school – unless that student-athlete’s situation fits one of the current 15 exceptions that allow for immediate eligibility. However, the revised transfer regulation also allows that transferring student-athlete immediate eligibility in any other MHSAAsponsored sport not participated in during that previous year at the previous school.

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