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Jose GarciaMultimedia Journalist/Historian firstname.lastname@example.org
Updated: Transfer rule falls one vote short of passingMar 1, 2013
On the surface, the transfer rule seemed like a great idea to help curtail students from transferring for athletic purposes.
But the rule somehow got lost in translation as the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s legislative council dredged up differing opinions about the rule during Friday’s meeting. In the end, the back-and-forth between members torpedoed the rule, falling one vote short of passing.
It seemed like the rule would become a bylaw after the council voted to amend the agenda transfer rule item from 25 to 50 miles, giving the rule essentially more teeth. But after the council voted 31-8 to amend the transfer miles to 50 for the entire state, council members discussed for about 30 minutes the merits and drawbacks of a 50-mile rule.
There was even some discussion on why 25 miles was first on the agenda, a number that the 5A conference settled on because that distance would still force metro athletes to think twice about transferring.
The issue of a heavier workload for athletic directors if a 50-mile rule was adopted was raised. A 50-mile bylaw would ensnare more students but also would likely increase the transfer paperwork for athletic directors.
Currently, the 520 is the only form Arizona high school athletic directors use to try and verify if a student athlete transferred from one school to another for the right reasons. Appeals the AIA receive also take up a lot of the AIA’s appeal committee’s time.
But Dr. Harold Slemmer, the AIA’s executive director, told the legislative council that families who own multiple homes or can afford to rent an apartment without abandoning their official place of residence so their child can attend a school for athletic reasons, continue to do so. But it didn’t matter, because 11 members voted against the 50-mile rule, with 25 in favor.
Three of the members didn’t vote, and six of the 45 council members didn’t show up to Friday’s meeting. If the rule would have passed, it would have kept athletes who transferred for athletic reasons on the sidelines for one season.
“If there wasn’t a conflict of interest, what I can’t explain is why would three members abstain?” said Chuck Schmidt, the AIA’s associate executive director.
The legislative council doesn’t do a roll call when it votes on agenda items.
“I would have probably preferred the 25-mile, but it didn’t really matter to me,” said Doug Meyer, a legislative council member and athletic director at a metro private school, Arizona Lutheran, who voted in favor of the 50-mile rule. “I just think there should be some type of prohibition process, because now it is too subjective. You have to constantly be investigating. Did the kid move for athletic reasons? Did he not? There are so many loopholes. This (50-mile rule) would have closed a lot of the loopholes I think. I just think people shouldn’t be allowed to shop around from year to year to the next year.”
Paul Reynolds, Queen Creek’s athletic director, voted against the rule.
He said that the schools in his area don’t have a transfer issue, and that if a 50-mile rule was implemented, it would become another issue he’d have to oversee.
“I feel the process we have right now is working just fine if everyone does their job,” Reynolds said. “There’s a lot more to the logistics of it (50-mile rule). It will also punish some good kids who transfer.”
Dr. Steve Hogen, the Mesa district athletic, also voted in favor of the 50-mile rule but also said that the number of miles was an issue.
“The first thing we should ask is if we want such a rule,” he said.
“I think it (50-mile rule) was a good attempt. It was fine. It was equitable. But there is still an appeal (transfer) process in place. But I thought that it (50-mile rule) was something worth taking a shot at.”
Phoenix Betty Fairfax athletic director Reynaldo Peru was another member who said he was concerned about the amount of time spent on combing through transfer appeals.
Peru serves on an AIA transfer appeal committee.
“But that’s not really the only reason why I didn’t vote for the rule,” Peru said. “In the Phoenix Union District, our student population has a population with single parents, single family homes with parents that have to move because of their jobs, so it’s more convenient for them to live in the same area in our district. That’s a legitimate reason.”
There was a last-gasp attempt to revisit the 25-mile rule, the original agenda item, at the end of the meeting, but that was shot down as well.
Derek Fahleson, the athletic director of Estrella Foothills, made the request to look at the 25-mile rule. Fahleson voted in favor of the 50-mile rule.
“I don’t see it as a sad day for high school athletics in Arizona,” Fahleson said. “I think we just have to find a way to continue to monitor and help the situation, so that we can make sure that legitimate transfers are legitimate and the ones that are athletically motivated are monitored.
“It (50-mile rule) could have been (another tool), but we are never really done. The legislative body is an ongoing thing, and you’ve seen things voted down one day and six months later we’ve gotten together and learned more and gotten more information and made decisions that were exactly the opposite.”