Athletic transfers transforming high school sports

The WIAA’s Philosophy of Transfer states;

“The Transfer Rule is preventative in nature and is devised to eliminate the incentive to transfer schools when the motivation is for athletic purpose… and protects students who have previously participated in athletic competition at a member school from being replaced by students who transfer for athletic purposes.”

In the last three or four years, and especially the 2013-2014 school year, this philosophy has been harshly violated in WashingtonHigh School sports. Of all the wild transfers taking place, basketball has risen to the top of the list of sports in Washington that have been flooded with transfers. High school athletes are transferring schools left and right, leaving other athletes, coaches, and fans wondering if they are still observing high school sports or NBA Free Agency. Athletes are joining forces and transferring to schools to try to create “Super Teams” and bring home the State Championship. Although there is nothing wrong with having the goal of winning a State Championship, the steps athletes are taking to achieve this goal are becoming controversial, and somebody needs to come up with a solution. Whether this be not allowing transfers other than for students who have moved, not allowing any transfers to play for a full season at their new school, or another solution that has not presented itself, action is necessary.

Over the summer, Washington state high school basketball was headlined with a barrage of transfers. Athletes have joined up in an attempt to create star studded teams to make an uncontested run to a State Championship. GarfieldHigh School has been a prime example of this. According to LeftCoastRecruiting.com, over the past three months, Garfield has received a total of five transfers for their varsity basketball team. These players aren’t just any kids off the street either. Tramaine Isabell, the top rated player in the state for the class of 2014 and has committed to Washington State University, has transferred to Garfield from Lakeside High School. Brayon Blake, a top player in the state, who has already changed schools once, and Deeshawn Tucker, also one of the better players in the area, have both transferred from Federal Way High School to Garfield. To finish off  the talent overloaded list of transfers, Garfield has also landed 2015 Andro Benard, a top prospect for his grade, and a seven foot center from Michigan. Add these to a team that already has the top rated 2013 player in the state, Dejounte Murray, who has committed to the University of Washington, and Jashaun Agosto, one of the better 2015 players in the state, and it’s going to raise some eyebrows.

The chances of all of these athletes transferring to the same school by coincidence are highly unlikely. To put that theory to rest is the fact that three of the players who transferred played together on an AAU team this summer. It is not unlikely that in the duration of their summer basketball circuit, the idea of teaming up for their senior year didn’t cross their mind. This is where the controversy comes into play.

Athletes are obviously transferring for athletic reasons, rather than academic or geographic reasons. This goes against the WIAA’s Philosophy of Transfer, yet nothing is being done. Mar’Kese Jackson, a senior and varsity basketball player at Bellarmine Prep, on the topic of transfers in high school sports said, “I don’t like the idea… High school sports are about representing where you’re from and your home school. It takes away from the brother hood which is high school sports.” This seems to be the opinion of most athletes, other than the ones whose schools are loading up with the transfers.

Fans are not big supporters of this method of transferring either. “Transfers should not be allowed for athletic reasons, period,” said Quentin Purtzer when he was asked about high school athletics, specifically the basketball scene, and how transfers are trending at the time.

Now, watching these “Super Teams” play would be very fun to watch, don’t doubt that, but what are the long term effects of this going to be? If the WIAA hasn’t opened their eyes to this issue in high school athletics, they need to, and something needs to be done before high school athletics turn into a free agency operation.

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