In my three years covering high school sports, never have I seen the transferring of student-athletes from one school to another like here in Hall County.
The moves are so blatant you can literally speculate when a senior graduates from one school, what student-athlete from another school will transfer to take his place. You can create a list of names. In a lot of cases, the name you picked does transfer. In some cases, there are package deals.
Kids in Hall County bounce from one school to another like ping pong balls, and it creates an uproar in the communities.
Allegations are made the student is being recruited, that money is being exchanged under the table, that jobs are being created for the parents if they move to a given district. Attacks are made on a coach’s character and integrity.
That said, there’s nothing wrong with a student-athlete moving from one school to another. It’s those who whine and make false allegations that are in the wrong. As long as the move is legitimate and all Georgia High School Association guidelines are met, what’s the problem? Members in the community scream “scandal” and wonder what happened to community spirit. Demands are made for the GHSA to enforce stricter guidelines for transferring.
But what can that organization really do to prevent a kid from transferring as long as the family makes a bona fide move?
In most cases, the move is legitimate, yet accusations are made there must have been some type of recruiting taking place. However, recruiting doesn’t need to take place. If a starter graduates from one school, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that an open starting position has been left on the team.
Basically, all the GHSA could do to prevent transferring is say that once a student plays a sport for one school, he/she is not eligible to play for another school in the state for the remainder of his/her high school career. That’s unreasonable.
Now sure, there have probably been cases where some rules were broken in the process of a kid changing schools, but how is the GHSA supposed to police that? Are they supposed to launch an investigation every time a kid moves? Who’s going to fund that?
If rules are broken, the only way to expose them is with evidence. The GHSA is not going to go out of its way to find it, nor should it. There are too many student moves to track. So the burden of providing proof falls on the community. If someone knows something, they should inform the GHSA.
But in most cases, there is no proof, because nothing wrong happened. You just have a bunch of sour fans crying foul because their program was negatively impacted by a move. And it’s funny, when a transfer comes to their school, the complaints cease.
Bottom line: Student-athletes don’t have the final choice of what school they attend. It’s up to the parents.
And the community members who whine when a student switches schools don’t have to endure the stresses, risks and other drawbacks that those who physically move their lives do. And that’s what the family is doing when they move, they’re taking a risk. That’s their choice. And they should have every right to exercise it.
Take for instance, Austin Brown’s move to Flowery Branch. With Habersham Central in 2009, Brown completed 87 of his 176 passes for 1,037 yards and five touchdowns to 15 interceptions and earned a scholarship offer to Western Carolina, a Division I-AA school
In his only season with the Falcons, Brown was 175-of-274 passing with 2,588 yards and 24 touchdowns to four interceptions, earning The Times All-Area First Team honors. His play caught the attention of Division-I Alabama-Birmingham, and he’s now attending the school on a full scholarship. The Brown family’s decision to move ultimately improved his life situation. It’s a decision that will forever impact him in a positive manner.
What right does the GHSA have to step in to prevent that?
On the flip side, transferring schools doesn’t always work out. One situation that appears to be a better one may end up being the opposite. And there are always delusional parents who think their kid is better than Michael Jordan and should be playing more. Again, there are risks involved.
It’s the family that has to live with the good or bad of their decision to move. Spectators can cry foul all they want, but unless there is proof of a violation, they would save face by simply keeping quiet.
It’s time to accept the fact that a family has every right to move to another district, regardless of the motivation.
Adam Krohn is a sports reporter for The Times. Follow him at twitter.com/gtimesakrohn