The "previous contact" bylaw, scheduled to go before the association's representative assembly in January, would allow student-athletes who transfer schools to compete in sports that do not involve the coach in question. Further, the bylaw also allows student-athletes to compete in the affected sport at levels other than varsity, such as JV and freshmen levels.
The current "follow-the-coach" rule prohibits student-athletes from changing schools to play for a coach they worked with on a travel or club team.
Features of the proposed bylaw include:
- Allowing the student-athlete to play varsity levels at any sport but the one involving the travel or club coach. So if a student transferred to a school where his club coach is also the school's baseball coach, he would have to play sub-varsity baseball for one year, but could play on the varsity for any other sport.
- If a student-athlete completes the final grade offered at his previous school (such as a school that offers grades K-7), he can play without interruption at his new school.
- Student-athletes can fully participate if the coach in question has been associated with the school's sport in question for less than a year.
These proposed changes come in the wake of the FHSAA's surveying of athletic directors, administrators and coaches. According to the FHSAA, 72 percent of those surveyed said they wanted to see changes in the transfer and club sports participation rules; 53 percent said the follow-the-coach rule should be changed in some way; and 73 percent said parents and students should not be able to choose their schools based on athletic participation.
“This set of proposals will go a long way to make sure student-athletes get to keep playing the sports they love, while also making sure blatant recruiting is discouraged and punished,” Roger Dearing, the association's executive director, said in a statement. “This approach will be fair to everyone – the schools, the coaches and, most importantly, the student-athletes themselves.”
If approved by the assembly, the changes go into affect for the 2014-15 school year.