Two more Hillsborough transfer students can play ball
Update: Three more transfers were approved in the afternoon session, A fourth, involving a student who wants to play even though he is taking classes at a local college, was deferred for more discussion.
Log two more in the win column for high school athletes in Hillsborough County who appeal athletic eligibility decisions.
The School Board on Tuesday morning gave a thumbs-up to two Alonso High School students who recently transferred into the school.
A system that came about after the Armwood High School eligibility scandal requires transferring students to sit out a year of play unless a committee, which has very strict critera, allows exceptions. That committee is seeing roughly 400 cases a year, said Lanness Robinson, the district's athletics director. About 10 percent result in appeals before the full school board.
At first the board overturned the committee in most cases, despite occasional reservations and questions about whether families were being truthful. Stickly issues include transfers from private school, in which families typically describe financial hardship - which is not one of the four listed criteria.
More recently the school board has been saying no to some students.
Tuesday morning's session (five more are scheduled at 2:45 p.m.) opened with the case of an Alonso High School football player who is staying with a family friend who does not have legal custody. The student, now an 18-year-old senior, started has career at Alonso but moved to Leto when the family moved. There, he did not get along with his teachers and his school work suffered. He also fought with his father, which is why he moved in with the friend who lives in the Alonso attendance zone.
The board voted unanimously to allow him to play. (It didn't hurt that he has a scholarship offer from Florida Atlantic University).
The second case was more difficult. It involved a 16-year-old volleyball player who has spent the last two years as a scholarship student at a Christian private school. The school did not give her enough coursework that would prepare her for college and law school, she told the board.
But in the statement she wrote for her appeal, she said she wanted to switch to Alonso to play volleyball.
Board members were torn between their admiration of the student's initial honesty - and the realization that what she had stated seemed counter to the purpose of this whole process, which is to stop students from moving into schools to play a sport.
"We've been on a slippery slope with this the entire time," said board member Carol Kurdell, who seemed inclined to vote against the student, with member Stacy White agreeing.
Member April Griffin, who would have been the tie-breaker, pointed out that the student lives in the Alonso zone. "You're moving into your home school and I have no problem with that," she said.
Kurdell voted with the majority, with only White voting no.