Update MAIS Transfer Restrictions for High School Athletes

Update MAIS Transfer Restrictions for High School Athletes

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Elizabeth Upchurch started this petition to MAIS Administration

Due to an antiquated Mississippi Association for Independent Schools (MAIS) policy, high school athletes that attend conference private schools in Mississippi are required to sit out a year of athletic eligibility when they change schools.

Students may desire to change schools for a variety of social, logistical, financial, or learning-based needs that are not motivated by athletic intentions. This policy punishes student-athletes and prevents them from making optimal decisions for their high school years. Its implementation has detrimental effects when students faced with the need to change schools must also consider the worry of losing valuable experience and exposure in their chosen sport.

It is assumed this policy was implemented to prevent schools from recruiting athletes from inter-conference schools, but in protecting the schools' athletic departments the athletes are being penalized during a very short span they have to play high school sports. Eligibility for athletes during their high school career can lead to considerable financial opportunities for college athletic scholarships. It is also well documented that athletic participation plays into non-athletic scholarship opportunities and even college admission considerations.  

Even the NCAA has updated their regulations to adopt a policy allowing a one-time transfer without ineligibility penalty for college athletes. A similar allowance seems to be only logical for high school students. Their statement, in the header above, summarizes the change and motivation behind it. Even more recently, the supreme court ruled NCAA restrictions on “education-related benefits” for college athletes violated antitrust law. The benefit of being accepted into college is the ultimate "education-related benefit." The policy is putting students at a disadvantage for potential college athletic and academic benefits.

If the concern is that high-school students might be offered scholarship assistance for expensive private schools to entice them to transfer, then lifting the ineligibility penalty only for students who do not receive financial assistance will eliminate this factor. However, reports of the NCAA policy appear to indicate that schools will even be able to offer financial scholarships when this one-time transfer occurs in collegiate athletics. Inexplicably, the MAIS transfer regulation is not applied when a student athlete from a public school transfers into a private school. They are immediately eligible. The penalty is only applied for private to private school transfers.

“Pro Libertate et Disciplina!” is a creed displayed at the bottom of the MAIS web site. It loosely translates from Latin to English as “for freedom and learning.” Yet this policy represents a complete divergence from the freedom of choice that the MAIS claims to be at their core. There is no part of this athletic transfer policy that is in the best interest of the student being able to make choices that are best for their situation.

Please sign the petition below if you would be in support of the MAIS transfer rule being modified to allow student-athletes a one-time career exception from transfer penalty to be inline with the NCAA updated policy. We are asking that this modification be made prior to August 1, 2021 and applied to athletes participating in the fall 2021 school year and going forward.

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