LHSAA transfer, eligibility proposals advance

Proposals that would alter transfer rules and assign eligibility limits for junior high athletes competing in varsity sports were approved for a January membership vote by the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s executive committee Wednesday.

School relations committee chairman Mike Boyer of Lafayette’s Teurlings Catholic made a detailed presentation to the committee, noting work done by his committee during its meeting last week.

The merits of being allowed to play up in classification in one sport also were discussed, along with a previously approved agenda item that would require schools to play up in class in a specific sport based on a success formula.

But ultimately, the transfer and semester limits proposals were approved. These items are part of the LHSAA’s efforts to diffuse tensions between its public and private schools that led split football playoff championships this fall.

“The important thing is to put it on the agenda and let the membership make the decision,” Boyer said. “And don’t make the decisions in committee, which I think is important.

“My concern is that if the membership does not see us making legislation to handle some of the problems, then they lose faith in the association. To me, it’s a principals association and let them make the decisions.”

The vote to place the transfers proposal on the agenda was overwhelming.

The proposal to assign semesters of eligibility for seventh and eighth-graders required a hand vote.

The proposal for seventh and eighth graders competing in varsity sports would assign two semesters of eligibility for each year, giving an eighth-grader 10 consecutive semesters of eligibility and a seventh-grader 12 semesters.

Traditional ninth through 12th-grade students have eight semesters of eligibility. Along with adding semesters of eligibility, the proposal states that schools must now count seventh and eighth-graders for classification purposes.

The transfer proposal sets guidelines for transfer students who cross parish lines to attend a private school.

Previously, the committee recommended using the parish line as the boundary for in-parish transfers, giving students a school of first choice in the ninth grade and then requiring a student to sit out for a year if he/she transfers after that.

Boyer cited his school as an example. Students who have attended junior high at a school in a parish where there is no Catholic high school can move to a school in the adjacent parish and be eligible, making that school their school of choice. Those students would have to sit out if they transfer after that.

Students from a public middle school who opt to attend a private school in another parish would have to sit out for a year at all levels. Those students would have to sit out a second year if they choose to transfer after that.

“I think we’ve addressed a lot,” LHSAA Executive Director Kenny Henderson said. “Now some of it, like the seventh- and eighth-graders proposal, isn’t necessarily connected to the other proposals. But this makes things cleaner and easier to understand.”

Boyer noted the concerns schools in Class B-C may have about the semesters rule for middle school students.

“We’ve got some small schools that have seventh and eighth grades on their campus, and they rely on those students to field teams,” Boyer said. “They’re thinking that counting those students might move us up another class.

“Some schools have an advantage because they have the configuration they have. You have to be bigger than the moment and look at the big picture and say this is better for the organization.”