LEWISBURG, WV (WVNS) – After passing through the state House and Senate, Governor Justice will now decide on a bill regarding high school athletes’ ability to transfer schools.
The bill would allow high school athletes to transfer schools once during their high school careers without having to sit out a year before playing for their new school.
Greenbrier East head football coach Ray Lee said he understands the rule change would be a big help to students who may have been unfairly made to sit out when their families moved.
“Sometimes families run into hardships where they have to move, and it wouldn’t be fair to punish a young man or young lady to have to sit out a year because that was a hardship,” said Lee.
However, opponents of the bill fear the rule change could allow bigger, more historically successful sports programs to start recruiting athletes away from their local schools, something that is already happening in major college athletics.
Lee said he thinks there needs to be oversight to prevent recruiting and transferring from getting out of control.
“I think if there’s regulations put on it where it can eliminate kids transferring in just to win a championship, we’re already seeing that at the college level with the transfer portal. Hopefully, the transfer portal doesn’t come down to the high school level.”
Lee added one of the things he loves most about coaching high school sports is the connections he makes with his players, and the chance to watch them grow from children into adults over the course of four years.
He worries that players constantly switching schools to try to join the best team would disrupt the important life lessons many students get from playing high school sports.
“It wouldn’t give your school a chance to build a true culture. I think a lot of people take that for granted, the word ‘culture.’ But if you can’t build any kind of relationships with your players, and expectations and behaviors and habits, because you’ve got people running in and out of your program, then that is going to create a big problem,” Lee told 59News.
If Governor Justice approves it, the bill would also allow homeschooled students to play sports for their local public school team.