If things proceed as school superintendent MaryEllen Elia and athletic director Lanness Robinson hope, Hillsborough County will have one of the toughest high school student-athlete transfer procedures in the state.
On Tuesday, Robinson presented his "Participation Policy for Student-Athletes who Transfer" to school board members during a workshop at the school board's headquarters in downtown Tampa.
If approved as presented, the policy means students who transfer in the summer or during the school year will be ineligible to participate in sports for a full calendar year unless they get approval from a new, district-level committee.
The policy would take residency-based eligibility decisions for athletes away from individual schools. Instead, appeals would be presented to a Transferring Student-Athletes Participation (TSAP) committee of Hillsborough County Public Schools.
This committee would consist of one district level administrator, two principals, two senior high school assistant principals and four community members appointed by the school board. Assistant athletic director Jennifer Burchill and Robinson also would serve as non-voting members to help interpret the policy.
The policy would require any student not residentially zoned for a specific high school to be approved by the committee before participating in any athletic program. Transfer approval by a school would not automatically grant a student athletic participation. All transferring students would be ineligible for one year, unless an appeal to the TSAP is approved.
During the presentation, Robinson explained there are four exceptions the committee will consider: a "full and complete" family move; a necessary relocation caused by a family death, incarceration or foster care; a move as the result of a student marriage; and reassignment by district school board, which includes Hillsborough Choice Options.
"This policy will have parents rolling the dice because there is no guarantee they will be allowed to play sports," Robinson said. "We feel this will deter many of the transfers."
The policy will be presented to the board at its July 31 meeting. After advertising the policy for 28 days, it will either be voted on or amended at the Sept. 11 meeting. If no changes are made, the policy would be official Oct. 1. If any changes are made, it must be re-advertised for 21 days and re-voted on at the next available meeting.
Robinson said he expects the policy to be adopted and implemented in time for the second semester in January.