Sports

CIF is unlikely to mirror colleges by loosening transfer rules

As college sports move closer to true free agency and allowing athletes to transfer yearly without limitations on athletic eligibility, the question is whether the governing body for high school sports in California is ready to loosen its own transfer rules.

In 2012-13 the CIF approved its last major change, creating a sit-out period of about one month for athletes who switch schools without changing residency. Previously, they had to sit out an entire season. Athletes are allowed to use the sit-out period rule once in their four-year high school career.

In 2017, in another major change, member schools approved allowing students to transfer for sports-related reasons. That led to an increasing number of transfers, reaching 16,839 statewide in 2017-18. Transfers dropped considerably in 2020 and 2021 because of COVID-19 issues but are back up this school year.

Now that the NCAA Division 1 Council has recommended elimination of rules prohibiting transferring more than once for college athletes, Ron Nocetti, the executive director of the CIF, was asked if high school sports should follow suit.

“There has been no movement to relax transfer rules further, and I don’t see that happening,” he said Thursday.

But some high school programs are selling their programs to parents as being similar to college programs, and it seems only a matter of time before the issues college programs are facing trickle down to high schools, such as name, image and likeness.

Nocetti said he and the 10 section commissioners of the CIF will begin discussions of an important subject: “What high school sports is about and what high school sports is not about.”

“That will be a big focus this fall,” he said. “What I would hope would come out is information and tools for our schools setting up a culture.”

Nocetti said the CIF needs to do a better job highlighting the many schools and athletes using high school sports as a way to prepare for the future. He said the goal of winning games remains important but the focus on winning is beginning to “supersede” the goal of teaching life experiences.

“We need to return the focus to those who participate in high school sports for all the right reasons,” he said. “We have to control the narrative more.”



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