MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Despite opposition from high school coaches and the high school athletics governing body, a bill that would grant student-athletes a one-time transfer without losing a year of eligible athletics was overwhelmingly approved by the State Senate.
According to supporters, the intention of SB 586 is to prevent students who are transferred to schools outside their residential area for academic reasons from being forced to miss a year of athletics.
“Even if this transfer is done for an academic reason, which is usually the case with most transfers, they still have to be absent. If a child tries to take advantage of a great math program in a school and plays a sport, they have to take a full year off,” said the bill’s lead sponsor, Sen. Ryan Weld, R-Brooke.
“I personally believe that someone has the right to transfer and should be able to do so,” Sen. Bob Plymale, D-Wayne, remarked Wednesday in the Senate.
However, the unintended consequences of the bill, should it become law, would be the creation of a secondary version of the transfer portal.
“I think in areas where there are a lot of schools, I think you’ll see a lot of jumping and there’s going to be a lot of recruiting,” West Virginia High Schools Executive Director of Operations Bernie Dolan said. , on MetroNews affiliate WAJR.
Coaches are also worried about the Pandora’s box the bill could create. On Thursday, the West Virginia Schools Athletic Coaches Association sent a letter to members of the House of Delegates expressing their opposition to the bill. The letter states that SB 586 allows “athletics to precede academics” and would “increase the likelihood of overzealous adults recruiting children into sports at a certain school.”
the WVSSAC Residency Transfer Rule, covers a variety of situations and grants several instances in which a student can remain eligible without being forced to forfeit a year of athletics. Also, like all WVSSAC rules, it can be appealed.
“From February of last year to February of this year, I think we had 115 appeals for the residency transfer rule and 70 of them were approved,” Dolan said.
With an estimated 35,000 to 40,000 high school student-athletes in the state, the transfer rules appear to only affect a very small percentage.
“We’ve only had 115 calls on that many athletes. It doesn’t look like a problem that needs to be fixed,” Dolan said.
SB 586 passed the Senate on Wednesday on a 31-3 vote and now goes to the House of Delegates for consideration.