Proposed IHSA rule would attempt to crack down on transfers

Schools around the state are set to vote on a new Illinois High School Association rule involving transfers and the hiring of high school coaches.

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A general view of the IHSA Class 5A football state championship trophy in 2021.

A general view of the IHSA Class 5A football state championship trophy in 2021.

Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

Schools around the state are set to vote on a proposed Illinois High School Association rule involving transfers and the hiring of high school coaches.

Administrators from three south suburban schools — Andrew, Sandburg and Stagg — wrote and submitted the proposal, which modifies IHSA bylaw 3.070, Recruiting of Athletes. The proposal would add this sentence to the rule:

“School personnel, particularly coaches or athletic directors, may not engage in any conversation related to athletic participation with individuals representing or employed by private athletic organizations (eg. AAU, club/travel teams, etc.) who are speaking about or on behalf of any student athlete.”

Steve Schanz, Sandburg’s athletic director, says the sentence is “purposely vague.”

“This is a first step,” Schanz said. “The key is the quid pro quo where people are saying if you hire me you are going to get these guys on your team. There are a number of schools where you see coaches get hired and then you see one high-profile guy or five guys go there.”

IHSA rules already prohibit any recruiting for athletic reasons, but it is increasingly rare for any athletes that transfer to be ruled ineligible at all or for more than 30 days.

“We have schools that are flat out breaking the rules and they are flaunting it,” Schanz said. “Getting something on the books about this is a step in the right direction. Especially if there is a way we can add to it in the coming years based on reality and what is going on. Coaches are fed up.”

Young basketball coach Tyrone Slaughter, who also coaches for the Meanstreets club basketball team, which is run by Thornton basketball coach Tai Streets, says the sentence proposed is too vague.

“The number of coaches that are hired that have players attached to them is probably so minute that it doesn’t need a rule,” Slaughter said. “I’ve not seen that to any degree. No transfer I have had has been attached to a coach. I don’t know of that happening with transfers at Glenbard West or Riverside-Brookfield or St. Rita or anywhere else.”

More than 100 boys basketball players transferred over the summer. Some high-profile basketball teams have starting lineups composed primarily of transfers.

“Maybe there are some schools that are doing it just to keep up?” Schanz said. “That’s sad. They are opening up Pandora’s box, all for the glory. Maybe this proposal gives them the opportunity to stop it.”

All of the 700-plus IHSA schools can vote on the proposal, which would pass with a simple majority. Voting begins on Monday and runs through December 18. The results will be posted on Dec. 19.

“You never know what will happen in a vote,” Schanz said. “But I think it will pass. I hope it will.”

Seven other proposals are on the ballot, including one that puts specific limitations on NIL (name, Image and likeness) activities. All the proposals are available to read on the IHSA website.

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