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CIF Rethinks Transfer Rules : Preps: Students who change schools will be granted immediate athletic eligibility, with some restrictions.


SAN FRANCISCO — Students who transfer high schools under the state's new open-enrollment law received a reprieve concerning athletic eligibility Saturday.

After voting down two proposals on the matter Friday, the California Interscholastic Federation Council reversed itself a day later by deciding to grant immediate eligibility to open enrollment transfer students.

The new rule takes effect beginning with the 1994-95 school year and includes several provisions. For starters, the transfer must take place no later than the first 15 days of the school year and can only be done once during a high school career. Also, students who transfer for disciplinary or athletic reasons will be excluded.

By this July, public school students in California will be allowed to transfer to schools within their districts, space permitting. The new legislation has created special problems for the CIF, which has strict eligibility rules regarding transfer students.

Most of the CIF's 10 sections, including the Southern and City sections, grant athletic eligibility only when a student has a change of residency or receives a special permit. These rules will still be followed when the new one does not apply.

Officials fear open enrollment will create the shopping of athletes and building of all-star teams. Because of that, the council voted down two proposals Friday that would have granted immediate eligibility to such transfer students.

Because open enrollment will be in effect statewide by this summer, the CIF was left without a policy on the matter. Thomas Byrnes, CIF commissioner, said the sections would individually have to deal with eligibility until the council could reconsider the issue at its next meeting in October.

Several council members met late Friday, however, to see if they could come up with a uniform policy. Gary Smidderks, president of the Southern Section Council and principal of Los Angeles Baptist High, helped draft the rule and presented it to the CIF Council on Saturday morning.

"Many of us in the council felt something had to be done so every section wasn't doing something different," Smidderks said. "Otherwise, we were looking at some potential legal troubles."

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