Groundbreaking new NJSIAA transfer, recruiting rules approved; will be in effect a month early

Sweeping changes first proposed back in January will go into effect June first, allowing for recruitment of student-athletes before they become high schoolers, and – in general – one free transfer during their high school careers without having to sit out, regardless of whether they move or not.

Three ballot proposals – the third of which allows the new bylaws to go into effect June first, whereas most amendments go into effect July first – were overwhelmingly approved by the NJSIAA’s membership at its annual meeting Monday.

Recruiting now allowed before high school

The first of the changes amends the NJSIAA’s “Athletic Recruitment Rule.” It removes removes any penalties for recruiting student-athletes before they enter high school, as well as “potential penalties” against student-athletes. It also adds that if a student moves to a residence provided someone associated with the school, it will be considered evidence of recruiting unless proven otherwise.

Previously, the Athletic Recruitment Rule called for a penalty of one year of ineligibility for students-athletes who transfer as a result of recruiting, but that language was eliminated under the changes adopted Monday.

Scroll to the bottom of this story for the full NJSIAA wording on the rule changes.

It is still against the rules to recruit a student-athlete once they’ve entered high school. That includes “using mail, letters, brochures, or news media to compare high schools and to solely point out the athletic assets of the sender; engaging in proselytizing interviews or communications, initiated by school personnel or associates; offering athletic scholarships, free tuition or other monetary assistance, either from the school directly or indirectly through some affiliated body or individual, to induce a student to attend the school for athletic reasons.”

Athletic recruitment is not only banned by administration, staff, and coaches, but also “students, parents, booster clubs, or any organization having a connection with the school.”

Free transfers, but also limits

The NJSIAA says in its bylaws “it aims to discourage transfers for athletic reasons, multiple transfers, and transfers after a sports season has begun.”

Current rules require any transfer, in general, to sit 30-days before participating – or half the number of games, whichever is less – unless the transfer had a bona fide change of address.

The changes approved Monday eliminate the change of address rule, and allow a free transfer with no penalty any time in a student’s first six semesters of their initial high school enrollment. But a “second or subsequent” transfer at any time will require the typical 30-day sit-out period.

Senior transfers – anyone who transfers after their first three seasons of eligibility in a sport they participated in during the past 12 months – would have to sit 22 days or a third of the contests – whether it’s their first transfer or not.

Transfers still would have to sit it they transfer after the start of practice, and would be ineligible for the NJSIAA postseason if they transfer after regular season play begins – neither of those change.

One difference from when the rules were first proposed in January are the exceptions added in by the NJSIAA along the way. The new rules state “immediate eligibility, without penalty, will be granted for transfers resulting from DCP&P placement (Division of Child Protection and Placement), court placement, HIB transfers (Harassment, Intimidation, Bullying), and military transfers.”

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