Some W.Va. lawmakers looking to reverse call and change HS athlete transfer rules back

Published: Sep. 12, 2023 at 10:44 PM EDT
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KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) - With almost a month into West Virginia’s fall sports season, some football teams across the mountain state have already been sacked by double-digit losses in games under the Friday night lights.

Upon further review, some lawmakers are now seeking to turnover rules for high school athlete transfers back to the old way.

During this year’s regular session, the legislature voted to allow students in high school to transfer once and still maintain athletic eligibility.’

The previous rule allowed students to transfer once but forced those who switch schools after ninth grade to sit out one year unless they had a change of address or a bona fide reason.

Now, Kanawha County Republican Delegate Dana Ferrell wants to change the rules back submitting paperwork for the High School Sports Integrity Act with the plan to bring it up next year during the regular session.

“There are over 40,000 high school athletes across the state of West Virginia, cumulative in all sports,” Ferrell said at a news conference Tuesday. “We’re dealing with big numbers so anytime we mess with a bill here in the legislature that affects high school athletes, it’s in no small way, affecting a lot of people.”

Ferrell’s proposal notes athletes can choose to transfer back to their home school without penalty, also in line with previous rules but not all legislators think they fumbled the change.

“Transfer rule allowed parents and students to make the best decision they could for their individual students and that’s the thing we’ve been trying to do with this state for a while,” said Putnam Republican Senator Eric Tarr. “To create those educational freedoms and best opportunities for any West Virginian.”

Legislators hoping to reverse the transfer rules for high school student-athletes say its adverse effects are already seen in lopsided scores and weakened community pride while other lawmakers supporting the current rules say these effects are part of the adjustment period to the new rules suggesting changes in other areas of the process.

“It only takes a couple of good athletes, even on a AAA football team to turn the tide of power and strength around from bad to good or from good to bad,” Ferrell said. “When we start seeing some of the numbers that we’ve seen transfer out in and around here, you can see why we’re seeing so me of these lopsided contests.”

“I think there’s probably more of an issue with maybe there should be some rules around it around how recruiting is done, I do think we need to give a little time working out not have a knee-jerk reaction to this legislation. I know there are some legislators who are vocal when opposing it and they were vocal on opposing it when the legislation was going through so they’re looking at this as an opportunity to say, ‘see, I told you so’”, Tarr said.

“It’s way too early to say see, I told you so.”