LAWTON_A loophole which made it possible for a student to play one sport at one Lawton high school in the fall--and then play another sport at a different school in the spring--is now closed.
The Lawton Public Schools Board of Education voted unanimously Thursday to change the rules about high school and middle school athletic transfers. If a student-athlete transfers to a different Lawton school, they are ineligible to play for one season.
The old rules required students to spend nine weeks at a new school before becoming eligible for athletics. Superintendent Barry Beauchamp said people abused that rule, moving early before their season so they could do nine weeks in school and then play. And they didn't always stay with that school.
"Sometimes they'd transfer back to maybe graduate or to attend after the season was over," Beauchamp said. "It became a very difficult thing to control the eligibility of who was actually eligible, who was making a bona fide move versus who was making one just for the purposes of athletics."
To play for another school, transfers will now sit out for one whole year. In the old system, they only sat out one particular game-when they played against their former school.
"You could not play during that opposing team match-up," said Area 3 Board Member Eric Sharum. "So if one kid was at Eisenhower, but then he went to MacArthur, he couldn't play against Eisenhower during that time when they would play that one game."
Sharum said Lawton's not the only school district with this problem. Other Oklahoma school districts with multiple high schools, such as Midwest City and Putnam City, have faced the same problem.
"You always have this recruiting temptation that people will want to try to transfer because of a coach or because of a school," Sharum said. "Sometimes there can be too much flip-flopping."
The Board did make sure that if a player moves into a zone for a new school, they can still play their sport the upcoming season--just not at a new school
"They still have the option to play for the school that they were enrolled in so if they really want to play the sport, they won't be in limbo," said Sharum. "They'll be able to go back and play where they were previously."
The new rules also apply to middle school transfers.