Basketball by the Book: MSHSAA Does a Flip-Flop

Brian Sumers had a good story in the Post yesterday about the fate of an unknown number of St. Louis Public Schools students who decide to transfer to county schools this August. Because the city district lost its state accreditation, SLPS kids have the right to enroll in any county schools that agree to accept them as tuition students. As Sumers' story points out, students will be allowed to play varsity sports right out of the gate.

Under Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) bylaws, transfer students must sit out 365 days of a sport in which they held a spot on a roster at their previous school -- unless their situation falls under one of nine exceptions, including "transfer from unaccredited public school."

Athletics can't motivate the school switch, though. So Coach X from the county can't entice Star Quarterback Y from a city school to enroll at the suburban school. And the student athletes can't transfer specifically for the opportunity to suit up for a county outfit, whether a coach approached them or not. In those cases, theoretically, the kids would lose eligibility.

Although the Post reports that MSHSAA intends to "police" the situation, MSHSAA spokesman Rick Kindhart says the agency hasn't unveiled any new means to do so. In effect, then, the same procedures will hold: The principal of the sending SLPS school must sign off on a transfer form either endorsing or questioning the student's move. If the principal were to allege an athletics-motivated transfer, MSHSAA would step in to investigate.

Kindhart does not anticipate an exodus "of epic proportions" and an accompanying heap of transfer applications on the doorstep of MSHSAA's Columbia headquarters. That hasn't happened in other unaccredited districts, Kindhart points out.

MSHSAA receives 1,600 to 1,800 transfer applications a year, according to the Post story, and investigates in about 20 cases.

That's news.

Really, it is.

Last year, in the process of putting together our "Basketball By the Book" series, we tried for months to get these numbers from MSHSAA, only to be told -- repeatedly -- that such stats were impossible to calculate.

Kindhart now says that thanks to technological changes in the past year, a lot more information is available.

-Kristen Hinman

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