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NJSIAA moves closer to stronger transfer rules

By Phil Anastasia

Inquirer Staff Writer

ROBBINSVILLE, N.J. -- The NJSIAA's advisory committee on Wednesday approved a proposal by the organization's public/non-public committee to strengthen the transfer rule.

The proposal was made in an effort to curb transferring for athletic advantage and restrict "recruiting," according to the chair of the public/non-public committee, Mike Zapicchi.

"The 30-day sit is the shortest in the country," Zapicchi said of the NJSIAA's current transfer rule. "Fifty-two percent of the state associations (in the country) have a one-year sit."

The proposal would require a 30-day sit and ban from state tournament play for all varsity athletes who transfer, except those who move from a "closed" enrollment school to another "closed" enrollment school with a change of address.

No appeals would be allowed.

The proposal differentiates between schools with "closed" enrollment policies and those with "open" enrollment policies.

"Closed" enrollment schools are public schools that draw students from a clearly-defined geographic area. Those would be public schools that traditionally accept students only from their sending district.

"Open" enrollment schools would be all non-public schools as well as public schools that accept tuition students and public schools that participate in the state's choice-school program.

Haddonfield principal Chuck Klaus, a member of the executive committee, expressed some misgivings about the proposal.

"In my gut, I feel like we might subjecting some kids to this because of situations beyond their control," Klaus said.

Under the proposal, Haddonfield would be designated an "open" school because the school accepts tuition students, as does Eastern.

Several South Jersey schools such as Sterling, Audubon, Paulsboro, Northern Burlington, Pemberton, Ocean City, Mainland and Hammonton, among others, participate in the school choice program.

The proposal will be officially presented to the executive committee in May. The committee will vote on the proposal in June.

If passed by a two-thirds majority of the executive committee, the proposal would take effect July 1.

Zapicchi predicted a "Wild West" of transfers between passage of the proposal at the June 3 meeting and July 1 enactment.

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