“There is this notion among certain parents who believe that since ‘my student can go anywhere they want for academic reasons,’ that it means athletic ability is portable too,” Cox said.
The Indiana General Assembly passed the open enrollment law in 2008 after the state took over the funding of local schools. The law allows students to cross school district boundaries and attend a school outside of their home district without having to pay tuition, as was required before the law was passed.
Before the law took effect, the IHSAA processed about 3,000 requests from student-athletes who had transferred into a new school and requested the IHSAA approve their eligibility to play sports. About 90 percent were approved because they met the organization’s transfer rules, which required a “bona fide” change of residence by the family of the athlete into a school district.
Last school year, the number of student-athletes transferring into another district had grown to 4,000. The IHSAA approved about 95 percent of their requests to play sports, convinced that the transfers were for valid, academic reasons.
But the number of appeals filed by student-athletes who were denied eligibility by the IHSAA doubled, Cox said.
“We’re in full support of the law so long as it meets the academic needs of students,” Cox said. “What we don’t want to see is ‘school choice’ become convoluted because of athletics.”