COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A major change to the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s transfer bylaw was approved Wednesday afternoon.
The OHSAA member schools voted to approve a referendum item that requires transfer students who do not meet one of 11 exceptions to sit out the second half of the regular-season and the OHSAA postseason tournament. The vote was 450-244.
The change becomes effective immediately and applies to any students who transfer after May 16, 2018.
That is a significant change from the previous bylaw, which stated transfer students who do not meet an exception must sit out preseason contests and the first half of the regular season before becoming eligible to participate.
OHSAA member high schools voted between May 1-15 on the referendum item, which drew attention statewide. The transfer bylaw was one of eight referendum items that passed this week. There were 809 high school ballots mailed and 697 ballots were returned (86 percent).
The proposed change could only be approved by a majority vote of the OHSAA’s 819 member high schools.
“Much of the feedback we have received from the membership indicates that the current consequence -- sitting out the first half of the regular season -- is not a significant deterrent,” OHSAA Executive Director Dan Ross said in April. “If a student knows that the end of the regular season and the tournament will still be available, they are more likely to transfer. We don’t believe that a high number of transfers is good for education-based athletics.”
This is one of the most newsworthy developments this spring for Ross, who will step down Sept. 15. OHSAA Assistant Commissioner Jerry Snodgrass will succeed Ross in September.
There are 11 exceptions in the transfer bylaw, the most common being a change of residence into a new school district, which grants immediate eligibility.
For decades, the consequence for transferring without meeting one of the exceptions was ineligibility for an entire calendar year in all sports regardless of which sports the student played at the previous school.
In 2013, the transfer bylaw was changed to its current format, which calls for ineligibility during the first half of the season in the sports that the student played in the previous 12 months prior to the date of transfer.