New HS transfer rules won't affect upcoming school year

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Worried about confusion this fall in high school sports, the Georgia High School Association voted to table a proposal that was aimed at athletes transferring from school to school just to chase a championship.

The proposed rule came in the wake of Grayson High School's championship football season made up of several key players who transferred for their senior year.

A special committee of principals and athletic directors from across the state wanted to make all transfers sit out a half season, and they wanted the new rule to take effect soon: August 1. They discovered that was just too soon for many of their fellow executive committee members.

"This is not the perfect resolution," GHSA president and Rome resident Glenn White urged the executive committee. "People who want to cheat are going to find a way to do it. I think it's a step in the right direction."

But that step will have to be rescheduled for a later date. Worried about rushing into a landmark rule change, almost every member voted to table the proposed transfer rule, aimed at what supporters called transfer abuse.

GHSA president Glenn White of Rome was one of two who didn't want to wait.

"I'm disappointed because I thought we were ready to go ahead and pass the motion and put the rule in effect starting August 1."

The idea of making drastic changes to the transfer rules comes after a FOX 5 I-Team investigation into Grayson High School's football program.

Last year, several blue chip college prospects transferred to Grayson for their senior season, some openly admitting they did so to win a championship. For defensive back Jamyest Williams, it was his third high school in four years, tweeting before he arrived at Grayson that "I had to do what was best for me."

They got their rings. In December, Grayson won the state 7-A championship.

"I think high school athletics are supposed to teach loyalty and commitment to your community and to your school," GHSA president White observed to us. "When you're moving simply for the reason IU want to win a state championship, that does not teach loyalty and commitment."

GHSA members received more complaints after we revealed that one of those Grayson transfers, tailback Kurt Taylor, transferred right back to his original school in Newton County after winning the state championship. His father never sold their Covington home, even tweeting pictures of Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh making home visits... not in Grayson... but in Covington.

Outgoing executive director Gary Phillips addressed the executive committee, agreeing situations like that are not good for the sport.

"A lot of them are going to be there just long enough to play a particular sport and move away," he pointed out.

The new rule would have required all GHSA athletes sit out half a season if they transfer to a new high school. Their original school can waive that penalty... but if not, the new school can file an appeal with GHSA if they can prove the transfer was not "athletic in nature." Lose there, and the athlete can still practice with the new team... but can't play until half a season's worth of games has passed.

But in the end, committee members worried August 1 was just too soon to make such a drastic change and feel confident schools would understand it, especially when New Mexico and Ohio are struggling with their own transfer rules.

"The whole entire United States is in a situation where we have student athletes moving from school to school with the purpose of winning a state championship," White explained. "It's not just Georgia's problem. It's the entire nation's problem."

Then there's the new guy. Dr. Robin Hines was unanimously approved to take over as the new executive director.

"The new season is upon us already and the operational parts of those things are going to be very difficult to pull off and I just think we're going to need a little more time to work on those," he explained to us shortly after receiving congratulations from several GHSA members. He also pointed out that GHSA staff need to be make sure they've got enough people to handle a large number of appeals.

Supporters hope the new rule will pass later this year to take effect in time for the 2018-19 school year.

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