NJSIAA updates rules for spectators, transfers

The NJSIAA Friday afternoon unveiled new guidelines for the upcoming fall season when it comes to two key areas, permitting fans at games and loosening restrictions on transfers.

Up to 500 spectators will be allowed at games this fall, per Governor Murphy’s Executive order limiting large outdoor gatherings. That total does not include student-athletes, coaches, trainers and officials – essentially anyone on the field of play.

Spectators will be required to wear face coverings – as will media – unless it inhibits the person’s health. Fans also must adhere to social distancing guidelines set by the school or host facility.

But that may not be the final say. It’s believed districts could limit attendance – or ban fans entirely – if they so desire. At least one local Athletic Director privately voiced concerns to Central Jersey Sports Radio this week about allowing fans, saying it could be difficult trying to get some spectators to comply with social distancing or mask requirements.

The AD, who spoke off the record, cited a recent high school football game in Utah where an Athletic Director had to stop a game to tell fans to follow the rules, threatening to cancel the remainder of the contest if they didn’t comply.

On the transfer issue, the NJSIAA said that while a transfer for “athletic advantage” is still prohibited, “a transfer for athletic advantage will not include a transfer made because the student’s school cancels or postpones an athletic program due to the pandemic.”

That would allow football or soccer players at schools like Piscataway or Carteret, for example, to transfer anywhere else without penalty. Those two Middlesex County school districts are among a handful of others across New Jersey who have cancelled fall sports.

South River approved fall sports at a highly-attended virtual Board of Education meeting last night, and New Egypt this week reversed course on its plan to suspend football only, deciding instead to play this fall.

However, transfers don’t have a lot of time. The NJSIAA says that “any student who transfers after September 1, regardless of the reason, will be required to sit for half of the fall season, or 30 days, whichever is shorter.”

For more on the NJSIAA’s eligibility rules for the 2020-21 school year, click here.

To read more about spectator rules and other gameday fall sports guidelines, click here.

This article has been corrected to reflect that New Egypt originally had only planned to suspend football this fall, not the entire fall sports season.

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