GHSA task force floats idea of 50-percent sit-out rule for transfers

Credit: Craig Sager

Credit: Craig Sager

The GHSA executive committee could vote on a proposal next month that would make it harder for student-athletes to transfer and gain immediate eligibility in sports.

One idea, sent to the GHSA's 456 member schools for feedback earlier this month (and published below), calls for transfer student-athletes sit out 50 percent of their sports seasons at their new schools, including practices, unless the ‘’sending’’ school grants the student a waiver. The intent would be to discourage transfers that are made for athletic reasons alone.

The GHSA took a significant step in addressing the controversy of transfers earlier this month when the executive committee approved budgeting $25,000 for professional investigators to help ensure that transfers are legal.

A common complaint is that transfers don’t live where they claim. Currently, to gain immediate eligibility, a transfer almost always must make a bona-fide move into his new school district and relinquish his previous residence. Otherwise, he must sit out sports participation for a year.

Support for a 50-percent rule has been split so far, according to GHSA assistant executive director Jay Russell, who last year formed the transfer eligibility task force that crafted the 50-percent proposal.

‘’Some (schools) are all for it, and some had questions about some of the things contained in it,’’ Russell said. ‘’It would be a major change. People just need to have more knowledge about it.’’

Russell stressed that the GHSA office has not endorsed any proposal and that this idea may or may not go before the executive committee next month. Russell said the 50-percent proposal and the survey are steps toward measuring the pulse of the membership and further addressing growing concerns about the trend of high-profile athletes moving for athletic gain. Most notably, Grayson’s football team won a state title last fall after five major Division I recruits transferred. But key transfers increasingly have shaped the landscape of Georgia high school sports for years, especially in basketball.

A couple of basketball coaches with multiple state titles weighed in on a 50-percent rule this week.

‘’I think this is a good idea (but) if they are going to do this, then they need to really put their foot down and leave no wiggle room in it,’’ said Westlake boys coach Darron Rogers. “They need to consider making all transfers sit out a complete season if he or she transfers, period.’’

McEachern girls coach Phyllis Arthur saw it differently.

‘’I think if people make a bona-fide move (into their new school district), they should be able to play,’’ she said. ‘’What if an adult is paid 50 percent of their salary because they decided to change jobs for more pay, less work or because they didn’t like their previous conditions or boss? … I do not care. People can come or they can go. It is their decision.’’

Also noteworthy for the May 16 meeting is the recommendation by the GHSA’s board of trustees of an executive director to succeed the retiring Gary Phillips.

The deadline is Friday for executive director applications. The board of trustees will meet on May 4 to review applications and decide whom to call in for interviews. The board will recommend one candidate at the May 16 meeting in Thomaston.

Transfer Proposal for the GHSA (50% Rule)

If a student makes a bona fide move from one GHSA high school to another GHSA high school, he/she will be required to sit out for the first 50% of all competitions for one calendar year unless the “sending” high school waives the 50% sit out rule.  A form will be sent to the “sending” high school from the “receiving” school requesting the school to sign off on the transfer.  The “sending” school will have the opportunity to waive the 50% Rule, or the 50% Rule will remain in place.  If the “sending” school does not waive the 50% Rule, the “receiving” school will have an opportunity to appeal the decision to the Transfer Appeals Committee.


  1. The receiving school must first verify that a bona fide move has been completed.  If a bona fide move has not occurred, the student is migratory for one calendar year.   If the school believes that a hardship exists, the school can file the hardship paperwork with the GHSA (normal process).  If a hardship is approved by the GHSA, the 50% Rule does not apply.
  1. After the bona fide move has been verified, the "receiving" school will submit the (Sending School Transfer Form B) to the previous high school.  The "sending" school will have 10 school days to complete the verification form.  The "sending" school will have the opportunity to waive the 50% rule.  If the school has objections to the transfer, the 50% rule is applied.
  1. If the "sending" school does not waive the 50% Rule, they must complete and submit the form B verification sheet.  This will allow the "sending" school an opportunity to provide additional information needed if the "receiving" school appeals the decision (Example: undue influence, community member's influence, personal trainers, or the transfer was athletic in nature).  The "receiving" school can only appeal the decision to the Transfer Appeals Committee if they do not feel the reason for the transfer was athletic in nature.
  1. It is the responsibility of the receiving school to prove to the Transfer Appeals Committee that the move was not athletic in nature.

The Transfer Appeals Committee

The Transfer Appeals Committee will be comprised by members of the state executive committee.  These members will be specifically trained on this process, and the GHSA office will try to use the same group of members to create consistency with the appeals as well as using members that do not have a connection to the school or region that might compete against the transfer.

Practice Option :

  1. The student is not allowed to practice or participate with the team until the 50% sit out requirement has been met.  (This is a possible next step)

If a student transfers into a school and wants to play a sport the student’s 50% sit out will start the day of his enrollment and last for one calendar year.  If the student participates in a sport that has already started, the athlete will sit out 50% of the remaining games for that season as well as 50% of any other sports for one calendar year.