May 25, 2021 11:25 PM

SJSD athletes who transfer within district will be immediately eligible after policy change

Posted May 25, 2021 11:25 PM
Benton's Kelsey Johnson. Stock photo.
Benton's Kelsey Johnson. Stock photo.

By TOMMY REZAC

St. Joseph Post

High school athletes in the St. Joseph School District who change high schools within the district will now be immediately eligible to participate in sports at the varsity level.

The St. Joseph School Board voted 6-1 Monday to change their policy, which previously stated that student-athletes who transferred from one high school to the other within the district had to sit out of varsity competition for one year.

St. Joseph Schools superintendent Doug Van Zyl says this policy change aligns the district with MSHSAA’s transfer rules.

"This just lines up with what the state does," Van Zyl said. "People need to be aware that there are some expectations from the state in regards to athletics and participation and where you live and how you can participate. That's up to us to make sure we explain that. We just wanted to be in line with what the state does."

Van Zyl says this change will make things more fair for the student-athletes who switch school districts due to a family decision.

"The policy that we had was actually more stringent," he said. "It contributed some issues for some of our students and their families. If a family chooses to move during the year, that's not really in the student's power to control. That's the mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, whoever is in charge of the student."

The change will go into effect this upcoming school year.

The MSHSAA rules state that high school athletes who move to a new school district with their whole family are immediately eligible, as are those who are transferring and moving up from 8th grade to 9th grade.

Athletes are encouraged to check with their principal or athletic director before transferring to determine whether it’ll affect eligibility.

Students who transfer to another school solely for athletic reasons will still be ineligible for one year.

Assistant superintendent Gabe Edgar, along with director of student services Robert Sigrist, met with Van Zyl and the district’s athletic directors over the last couple of months, and were all in agreement of the policy change.

"We just had some situations that had arisen and some conversations and some questions that were asked," Van Zyl said. "So, we double-checked again with the state, and we felt like it was in the best interest of our students and our district to just be in line with what the state does."

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