ENID, Okla. — The organization that oversees secondary-school athletics competitions in Oklahoma will not amend its policy for student transfers in response to the state’s open-transfer law that went into effect on New Year’s Day.
Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association does not plan to implement any change to its rule requiring a year of sit-out time for a varsity student transferring to a new school district, OSSAA Executive Director David Jackson said in an email to the News & Eagle on Dec. 21.
Starting Jan. 1, public school districts in Oklahoma are required to accept students from outside the district if their grade is below a pre-determined capacity (and excepting attendance/disciplinary issues). These “open transfers” can be requested at any time of the school year, with up to two outside transfers allowed per year.
Transfers would be allowed first-come, first-served until grade-level capacity is reached, and students would be wait-listed and subsequently approved in order of request.
The state Legislature has no authority over OSSAA because it’s not a state agency, so the organization could not have been ordered by law to amend its policy, said state Rep. Chad Caldwell, R-Enid, who co-sponsored the initial House bill that changed the transfer law.
Under OSSAA’s rule 8, a varsity student-athlete must sit out one full school year from the date they first attended their new school if they’ve established previous athletic eligibility at a prior member school.
Jackson said OSSAA had discussed possibly changing the rule with member school administrators at recent area meetings. Schools also were surveyed to determine any interest in making a change.
“The feedback was overwhelming to keep the current rule in place as it is written,” Jackson said.
Chisholm Public Schools Superintendent Chad Broughton said he was glad OSSAA wouldn’t change its policy.
If student-athletes could transfer whenever they wanted, he said, “Then it’d be like college football.”
OSSAA allows exemptions to the ineligibility rule through a “hardship waiver,” if a student transfers because of hardships outside of his or her control.
Caldwell said he’d observed transfers happening before high school to skirt this process.
“Some of that’s happening now, but you have to do it in middle school,” he said.
Broughton noted, though, that out-of-district transfers may be more difficult at Chisholm Middle School, the classes for which already are near capacity for open transfers.
Current enrollments for grades 9, 10 and 12 at Chisholm High School are each around 20 students under capacity, but grade 11 is near its 60-student limit. Enrollment at the middle school, though, is near capacity for all three grades, based on average core class size of 25.