Opinion: FHSAA makes it easier for student athlete transfers
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Last year, Robinson football went 3-6. It isn’t an ideal record and now the updated transfer standards that the FHSAA has set is only making it harder for Robinson, and other schools with similar records, to compete. The perennial playoff contenders are the main schools benefitting from the new changes, but what about us?
Due to recent updates for FHSAA regulations regarding high school transfers, athletes who switch to a new school no longer have to sit out for a full calendar year, which was a rule in the 2014 FHSAA Rules and Regulations, Bylaw 2431.01. This means that a transfer can begin playing a sport almost immediately.
According to the updated 2017-2018 FHSAA Rules and Regulations, Bylaw 9.3.3 states that a student must only sit out for six days, including preseason practices, following a transfer as long as the proper paperwork is completed.
There are still written requirements a student athlete must meet to be eligible to transfer, but they are becoming harder to enforce. Because of this, players can easily switch to strong athletic programs, as long as they state a reason other than athletics, such as hardships or school choice. Not only do the requirements leave lower ranked athletic programs at a disadvantage, but they also create unexpected challenges for the player,who is constantly switching between schools, coaches and teammates in hopes of being seen by college recruiters.
Jordan McCloud, quarterback and brother of Clemson standout Ray-Ray McCloud, recently transferred from Sickles High School, who went 1-8 last season, to Plant High School, the 2016 6A State Runner-Ups. Although I am most likely biased as a Robinson Knight, McCloud’s sudden transfer to a school that is in dire need of a quarterback seems like a prime example of regulations gone wrong. Plant runs a stellar football program, spiking McCloud’s desire to be a Panther and his impressive statistics make him very desirable. And after graduating Rex Culpepper, now a quarterback at Syracuse University, the Panthers were in need of a replacement. But McCloud already had eleven colleges looking at him and has recently verbally committed to USF, so why did he suddenly decide to leave the team he played on for the past three years and transfer to Plant?
Early this summer, Robinson OL Steven Sargeant (’19) transferred to Tampa Catholic, who placed first in their district last year. Although his reason for transfer is also unknown, he is eligible to play in Friday’s preseason matchup between Tampa Catholic and Robinson, as well as the entirety of the season.
McCloud and Sargeant aren’t the only examples and football isn’t the only sport. This diluted transfer standard is impacting athletic programs all across the state. And Robinson certainly reaps no benefit, but is only hurt from these new lowered standards.
I’m not trying to point any fingers or make anyone mad, but I believe that every school deserves an equal shot at fielding the best teams possible. Hopefully one day FHSAA will believe that too.