W.Va. House limits free transfer for student athletes

W.Va. House committee adopts amendment to proposed student athlete transfer law.
Published: Mar. 6, 2023 at 6:04 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - The freedom for high school student athletes to switch teams without penalty in West Virginia moved closer to the goal line Monday afternoon, but an amendment by a House committee will limit free transfers to fewer students.

The House Education Committee voted 15-6 to advance the amended version of Senate Bill 262 to the full House.

The proposed restrictions would limit the one free transfer to students switching from a public to private school, private to public school or the purpose of participating in a sport not offered at the student’s current school.

A Senate plan offered one free transfer without reason.

Delegate Patrick Lucas, R-Cabell, supports a more limited approach.

“There are reasons why they should be able to go, but we don’t want teams to get stacked because everybody’s transferring to the same school to win a championship,” he told WSAZ NewsChannel 3. “We want fairness throughout state athletics.”

The West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission currently requires those who switch schools after ninth grade to sit out one year unless the they have a change of address or a bona fide reason. Its director, Bernie Dolan, said the House amendment, while more limited, still undercuts academics.

“The more a kid transfers, the less likely they’re going to have a consistent education,” he told WSAZ. “When they go from one school to another that might have a different scheduling, they might lose credits along the way.”

Delegate Sean Hornbuckle, D-Cabell, said he is open to changing the transfer rule, but he he voted against Monday’s amendment believing it needs more safeguards.

“I can see both sides of this, but I also think that we are encroaching upon a territory where you’re going to hurt the community kids,” he said.

Monday’s meeting marked progress for supporters, as the House never took up a similar proposal in committee last year.

It remains uncertain if the Senate will accept the change. The amended proposal now moves to the full House.