The “50-mile rule” needs a name change.
The governing distance for the proposed legislation which would make all high school transfers sit out a year if they move anywhere within 50 miles of his or her original school (barring appeal) has been decreased to 25 miles after Arizona high school conference representatives received feedback from their constituents.
The change will be included when the Arizona Interscholastic Association Executive Board votes on the transfer rule proposal at its Legislative Council meeting on March 1.
AIA Executive Director Harold Slemmer met with 5A Conference coaches who made the recommendation. The 4A conference is also supportive of the change, according to conference representative Art Wagner.
“Clearly, I thought the consensus on that was, ‘We think the 50 miles was an overkill, but we like the rule,’” Slemmer said of his discussions with coaches.
The 25-mile transfer legislation would hypothetically put an end to rampant transferring, often for athletic reasons. As it stands, the self-policing policy maintains eligibility for transfers as long as there is a domicile change and a statement that it wasn’t made for athletic reasons.
Many kids have moved with sports in mind but without public acknowledgement, which has resulted in widespread abuse of the system.
This new policy would put the onus on the players to prove their intentions in hardship appeals if the move is within the 25-mile radius. The distance is measured from the original school to the new one.
“We’re trying to stop the at-whim transfers,” Slemmer said.
If passed, the legislation will likely be put into place on July 1. However, if the AIA executive board members believe there will be a rash of transfers to beat the ruling, it could be moved up, Slemmer said.
Emergency legislation could put this rule into effect as early as March.
There seems to be little doubt this proposal would lessen transfers, but there would be a burden. Appeals would likely increase, which would put a strain on the AIA.
“If all of a sudden we get dozens of these, we’re going to have to print an administrative procedure on how to deal with those outside the normal hardship process because it would just be too many,” Slemmer said.
The 25-mile proposal would not have much of an effect on the rural schools who are much farther apart.
There is talk of creating a different distance for those smaller schools. The designations between rural and metro schools are already in place, and separate distances could help alleviate concerns for parties with differing concerns.
“I’d hate to put a rule in that really doesn’t help everybody,” said executive board member Sister Lynn Winsor, also the athletic director and golf coach at Xavier. “I wish there was a way to encompass the whole state.”
Also, a new transfer rule would not replace the old rules. If an athlete transfers schools outside the 25-mile radius for athletic reasons or without changes domiciles, he or she would be ineligible for a year.