01/05/17 – Middle School FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) – Updated

August 17, 2015 Athletic Department Blog Updates

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS/UPDATE – MIDDLE SCHOOL ATHLETICS REGULATIONS- UPDATED JANUARY 5, 2017

Please refer to this blog for updates and responses to frequently asked questions to guide you throughout the year.  If you have an immediate question, please contact Associate Commissioner Butch Cope (bcope@khsaa.org) at the KHSAA offices.

Authority and Jurisdiction

What is Middle School as used in these regulations and rules?
Middle School is defined by competition conducted between grades 6 through 8 to align with assessment parameters and divisions. It is considered to be middle school competition, and compliance with this regulation is required, if any of the following situations exist:

(a) The contest, event or tournament is sponsored by a school (or combined group of schools);
(b) Competitors wear a school issued uniform;
(c) The contest, event or tournament is sponsored by an outside entity as a school entry event (advertised or promoted as a school event), whether or not an entry fee is required;
(d) A school entity pays an entry fee, for the student or team, including payment by booster organizations;
(e) A school representative(s) accompanies the student-athlete or transports the student-athlete to the contest, event or tournament;
(f) A member of a school coaching staff (designated/hired, whether paid or unpaid) is present and offering instruction, advise, evaluation or refinement of skills or exercising other duties defined as “coaching” within the sport rules;
(g) Transportation to or from the contest, event or tournament utilizes school provided or approved transportation;
(h) Competitors in the contest, event or tournament wear apparel identifying them by the name of the school (formal, informal or team nickname);
(i) Competitors in the contest, event or tournament are provided resources (promotional or otherwise) by the school including school media recognition, signage and items clearly indicative of school representation;
(j) Competition in a contest, event or tournament has, in any form, jurisdiction of the local school board or school based decision making body, including financial or other approval control; or
(k) Competition in a contest, event or tournament is covered by any school or school system provided or procured insurance policy

Can SBC or Local Board of Education enact a rule/policy that is either more restrictive or more lenient than the restrictions in the regulation?
A school based council or Local Board of Education MAY make policies MORE restrictive than the KHSAA policies.  A school based council or Local Board of Education MAY NOT make policies that are LESS restrictive or more permissive.

How are rules created/revised that will be applied statewide?
The Commissioner appoints a Middle School Advisory Committee within the parameters of 702 KAR 7:065. This committee meets not less than annually to review the regulation, discuss policies, and consider any potential changes to the middle school section of the regulation. If any changes were proposed, the Committee forwards them to the Commissioner for presentation to the Kentucky Board of Education as part of an annual report required within the regulation. Following that presentation, any change accompanies the high school changes in the required regulatory review process including approval by the Administrative Regulation Review SubCommittee of the Kentucky General Assembly. These rules can also be changed by direct action of the Kentucky Board of Education, or by action approved through the Kentucky General Assembly.

Who are the members of the Middle School Advisory Committee?
The roster of members is found on the KHSAA website at http://khsaa.org/current-members-middle-school-advisory-committee/

How is communication handled between, and to, the KHSAA and the middle schools?
Current communication is through the Middle School Blogpost as well as e-mail notices to Superintendents and other Athletic Administrators.  The KHSAA is working to develop a database of schools, primarily from the listings at the Kentucky Department of Education and the Kentucky Non-Public School Commission. Each school will be asked to designate a single individual for reporting and communication purposes. Initial communication will also be with the Superintendents of each local school district with the request that the information be forwarded to the appropriate personnel.

Requirements/Recommendations for Eligibility

Repeating Students
Effective with the 2015-2016 school year, policies regarding the participation of repeating students at the levels of play below high school interscholastic athletics shall be implemented pursuant to 702 KAR 7:065 as follows:

  • Beginning with the 2015-2016 school year and thereafter, require that no student enrolled initially in grade (5) through grade (8) during the 2015-2016 school year or thereafter who is repeating a grade for any reason be eligible to compete in interscholastic competition involving students enrolled in grades six (6) through eight (8) while repeating a grade; 

Age Restrictions
Beginning in 2015-16, the following age limits are in effect:

  • A student that turns fifteen (15) years of age prior to August 1 of the current school year shall not be eligible for interscholastic athletics in Kentucky in competition against students exclusively enrolled in grades eight (8) and below;
  • A student that turns fourteen (14) years of age prior to August 1 of the current school year shall not be eligible for interscholastic athletics in Kentucky in competition against students exclusively enrolled in grades seven (7) and below; and
  • A student that turns thirteen (13) years of age prior to August 1 of the current school year shall not be eligible for interscholastic athletics in Kentucky in competition against students exclusively enrolled in grades six (6) and below; 

Please note there is no waiver or appeal process with regard to the age limits set forth by regulation. It should also be noted that despite being unable to play at the middle school level due to these restrictions, students enrolled in grades 7 and above may have high school participation opportunities based on local rules and regulations.

Home School Students
Currently, there are no statewide regulations on home school students participating at the middle school level and any such restriction would be a local level decision.

Students Enrolled at Other Schools, Including Schools that are not under the same Board of Education
Currently, there are no statewide regulations that students are to be enrolled at a specific school or school system for participation at the middle school level and any such restriction would be a local level decision.

Coaches

Are there any restrictions on middle school coaches being involved in coaching outside teams?
Currently, there are no statewide regulations on coaching outside teams, and any restrictions with regard to middle school coaches coaching non-school teams would be a local level decision.

Are there any restrictions on coaching outside levels within the same school system?
Currently, there are no statewide regulations on other levels within the system, and any restrictions with regard to middle school coaches coaching other levels within the school system would be a local level decision.

What are the requirements for Middle School Coaches?
Coaches must adhere to the requirements of KRS 156.070 (2)(f) (age and graduation requirements, http://www.lrc.ky.gov/statutes/statute.aspx?id=39992); KRS 160.445 (sports safety course, http://www.lrc.ky.gov/Statutes/statute.aspx?id=41871) and KRS 160.380(4) and (6) (background checks, http://www.lrc.ky.gov/Statutes/statute.aspx?id=40245).

Are middle school coaches required to be twenty-one years of age, whether they are paid or not?
Yes, whether paid or unpaid, per KRS 156.070 (2) (f) (2).  It is not the jurisdiction of the KHSAA or the middle school advisory committee to waive this restriction.

Are middle school coaches required to complete the Sports Safety Course as listed in KRS 160.445?
Yes.  The Sports Safety Course is available through the KHSAA website.  Since 2014-15 is a transitional year, Athletic Administrators should instruct their coaches the following:
Go to http://khsaa.org/safety_course/index.php.  Middle School coaches should click “Don’t Take for Credit”.  The “Take for Credit” option is for High School coaches that are in the KHSAA High School database.  Middle School coaches are advised to print out and keep on file the ending certificate to the course to verify completion. The KHSAA will be working to provide an automated means of monitoring this requirement for the middle schools in the state in the future.

Do job openings for middle school coaches require posting, application periods, etc.?
Currently, there are no statewide regulations on posting requirements for middle school coaching positions, and any requirements would be a local level decision but must be compliant with adopted local policies.

When will the sports safety course be open to middle school coaches?
Since 2009, the course has been public on the KHSAA website.  Coaches may take the course now. Schools should require coaches to produce the eight (8) certificates (one for each module) that are produced at the end of each of the online modules, and the school should retain a copy.

Can the KHSAA data system be used to track coach attendance at the Sports Safety Course?
No, not at this time. Once a database of schools is built, there will be mechanisms that will allow for such tracking. Until that time, schools should require coaches to produce the eight (8) certificates (one for each module) that are produced at the end of each of the online modules, and the school should retain a copy. These copies will be invaluable at a later date in “catching up” with data entry to keep coaching records.

Officials

Are middle schools required to only use KHSAA licensed officials?
Yes.
Beginning with the 2017-2018 school year, teams participating in middle school athletics as defined by subsection (1) of 702 KAR 7:065 shall use KHSAA licensed officials in the sports of baseball, basketball, field hockey, football, soccer, softball and volleyball.

Will assigning secretaries have to be used for assigning games (and paid)?
No. This is a local school/school system/conference/association group of schools decision.

Will schools be able to continue hiring their own officials?
Yes. This is a local school/school system/conference/association group of schools decision.

Will the Board of Control or the KHSAA set a standard pay rate for officials?
Per 702 KAR 7:065, middle school athletics is not under the direction of the KHSAA Board of Control. The Middle School Advisory Committee has not recommended a standard pay rate for officials. This is a local school/school system/conference/association group of schools decision.

Limitation of Seasons

Is there a dead period for middle school athletics?
Yes.  
Beginning in June 2017, the period of June 25 to July 9 (inclusive), shall be a dead period for middle school athletics.
During the dead period:
(a) Students shall not receive coaching or training from school personnel, whether salaried or non-salaried;
(b) School facilities, uniforms, nicknames, transportation, or equipment shall not be used;
(c) School funds shall not be expended in support of interscholastic athletics; and
(d) A postseason wrap-up activity, celebration, or recognition event relating to a spring sports team at a school may be held.

Will there be restrictions on students playing on multiple levels of teams in the same sport (i.e. girls middle school basketball, followed by high school, followed by outside play, etc.)?
It is important to remember that nothing about this regulation changes or supersedes KRS 156.070 (2)(c) which prohibits state or local rules related to 7th and 8th grade students playing on high school teams, and also prohibits a local board from adopting a rule that makes the athletes “choose” one level or the other.

In addition, all local schools must adopt a limit of seasons. That limit of seasons may not exceed the high school limit of seasons (KHSAA Bylaw 23) but is not required to use the same dates. For example, a locally adopted baseball season may not have more than four weeks of preseason practices, eight weeks of games, 36 total contests, 2 total scrimmages and three weeks of postseason play. The decisions related to the time of year, etc. are local decisions and not currently contained in statewide regulations.

What about kids who leave my practice and go practice with an AAU team, how can we limit this?
There are no statewide rules that address this issue and this would be a local decision.  Currently, at the high school level, only football and basketball have any restrictions to play on outside teams during the school year.

Will all sports be aligned to play in the same season?
When a sport or sport-activity season is played at the middle school level remains a local decision. Many schools and systems are limited in the available time in gyms or fields. It was felt by both the original task force and the current Middle School Advisory Committee that this should be left to the local level, thereby allowing schools to address facilities issues on an individual basis.

Who can teams play?
It is a local school district decision with regard to whom a middle school team may compete against. However, during any competition, the middle playing the outside entity but adhere to all policies within the regulation (heat index, game limit, etc.).

Requirements/Recommendations for Sports Medicine Coverage

Are middle school coaches required to monitor the Heat Index and adhere to the heat index protocols including cancelling practice/games, etc. in certain conditions?
Yes. Details are on the KHSAA website.

Are middle school wrestlers required to adhere to the NWCA descent chart and calculations in order to compete?
Yes. Details are on the KHSAA website.

Do the statewide rules regarding concussion management, including return to play, apply to middle school level play?
Yes. Details are on the KHSAA website.

Does middle school football have to adhere to the equipment acclimatization protocol?
Yes.  This is a health and safety issue and therefore compliance is required.  Click here for the protocol. The determinations utilize the USA Football definitions which are fully described at http://usafootball.com/health-safety/levels-of-contact.

(1) Acclimatization and Acclimation 

  1. First date of OFFICIAL practice in helmet only. Only Level 0 – “Air” and Level 1 – “Bags” drills can be conducted. Heat index monitoring guidelines must be complied with during any activity. 
  2. First date of practice in shells (shorts, helmets, shoulder pads) for each player who has had at least five days in helmets only. Only Level 0 – “Air”, Level 1 – “Bags” and Level 2 – “Control” drills can be conducted. Heat index monitoring guidelines must be complied with during any activity.
  3. First practice in full gear for all players who have had at least three practices wearing helmets and shoulder pads. Level 0 – “Air”, Level 1 – “Bags”, Level 2 – “Control”, Level 3 – “Thud” and Level 4 – “Live action” drills can be conducted. Level 3 – “Thud” and Level 4 – “Live action” drills can only be conducted in one practice per day. Once the first of these practices has been held, no 7-on-7 or other game simulations against other teams can be held.  Heat index monitoring guidelines must be complied with during any activity.

(2) Requirements for Individual Players before playing against another school (game or scrimmage).

  1. These are required of each player, and this listing is vital for those coming out for the team after practice starts.
  2. Five days of helmets only in sessions with the rest of the team. Only Level 0 – “Air” and Level 1 – “Bags” drills can be conducted.
  3. Three days of helmet and shoulder pads with the team. During these days, no contact with other players, only sleds and dummies. Only Level 0 – “Air”, Level 1 – “Bags” and Level 2 – “Control” drills can be conducted.
  4. Three days of full practice in pads with team. The third day cannot be the day of the first desired game. Level 0 – “Air”, Level 1 – “Bags”, Level 2 – “Control”, Level 3 – “Thud” and Level 4 – “Live action” drills can be conducted.
  5. If playing other sports after July 15 and electing to come out for football later, the five days in helmet only (acclimatization) can be waived, but three days of helmet and shoulder pads with the team, followed by five full days of practice with the team would be required before playing against another school.

(3) Once contact practice (practice in all equipment and drills using Level 3 – Thud and Level 4 – Live Action Level) begins on or after August 1:

  1. Cannot have multiple contact practices on any day where Level 3 – “Thud” and Level 4 – “Live action” drills are conducted;
  2. On days when two practices of any type are held, a total limit of 5 hours per day of practice, not including the mandatory break. Water breaks, rest breaks and injury treatment shall not count against the 5-hour limit;
  3. A 3-hour break is required after a contact practice where Level 3 – “Thud” and Level 4 – “Live action” drills are conducted during which no activity can be held;
  4. Weight training, conditioning, meetings, film study, and teaching period/walk through simulations without equipment shall count against 5-hour limit and may not be conducted during the three-hour required break.
  5. If only one practice is held during a day, 3 hours per day is the limit.
  6. Heat index monitoring guidelines must be complied with during any activity.
  7. Schools must maintain heat index records which will be randomly audited.

Title IX

Will the KHSAA Title IX program apply to middle schools (annual reports)?
No.  However, for any meetings conducted by the KHSAA related to Title IX or other resources, they will be shared with Middle School Administrators to help guide them with compliance.

Will the KHSAA Title IX visits occur to review middle school facilities?
No.  However, for any meetings conducted by the KHSAA related to Title IX or other resources, they will be shared with Middle School Administrators to help guide them with compliance.

Will the KHSAA notify the middle school administrators when they are holding a meeting concerning Title IX?
Yes.  It will be communicated via the KHSAA website as well as shared with the Educational Cooperative Meetings.

Physical Exams/Insurance
Will middle school students be required to have a physical exam?
Yes. Each student at the middle school level, prior to trying for a place on a middle school athletic team, shall provide an annual medical examination performed and signed by a physician, physician assistant, advanced practice registered nurse, or chiropractor (if performed within the chiropractic professional’s scope of practice), for each student seeking eligibility to participate in any school sport or sport-activity.

When does the requirement of the physical exam have to be completed on the middle school form?  
Beginning the first day of the 2014-15 year, physicals will be required to be conducted and completed using middle school form MS01.  

Is there a specific middle school physical form?
Yes. KHSAA Form MS01 is posted on the KHSAA website. Local schools/districts/associations/groups of schools may supplement that form with additional material but must use the MS01 for the physical examination.

If a student plays middle school and high school athletics, are both middle school (Form MS01) physical form and the high school (Form GE04) required?  
Yes.  Both forms are needed since wording on the permission form is necessarily different.  The information on the physical part from doctor is the same, but the parent permission/information forms are different and likely always will be for legal reasons.  This part would have to be filled out separately for a student who played both middle and high school athletics.  You could attach one to the other (if middle school form is completed, one could attach the doctor’s part of the middle school form to the high school form) as a grandfathered student, 7th or 8th grader, who plays up to the high school level.

Will the two forms eventually be combined for students that play both levels?  
No, not planned at this time.  Information cannot be combined for regulatory and legal reasons. Parent permission information is completely different and entry portion (years in school, etc.) are not valid at middle school level.

Does this now require all students to get new physicals on the new form or when the physicals expire?  Beginning the first day of the 2014-15 school year, no other form is valid. Beginning in 2014-15, physicals must be completed on Form MS01. 

If we used the high school version of the physical part (doctor information), since we had been previously,  could that be attached to the new form where the parent gives permission? No. MS01 is the only valid form for 2014-2015. 

Does the 6th grade physical that is required suffice for the middle school athletics physical?
No.  The 6th grade physical that is required in no way covers the same elements as an athletic physical. An entirely new physical form (MS01) would be required to be completed.  It would be up to the approved individual that performed the physical if the requirements in MS01 required a new visit from the patient, or could be completed from existing patient records.

Are middle school participants required to have insurance up to any medical maximum?
No. There is no statewide middle school rule related to insurance minimum coverage, and the implementation of such a restriction or requirement would be a local level decision.

Does the KHSAA Catastrophic Insurance policy apply to middle school students playing solely middle school athletics?
No. This plan is solely provided to the dues paying member high schools, and covers only the students enrolled in those member schools participating within the restrictions of the KHSAA Handbook.

Outside Entities

Are there requirements for groups that conduct events at the middle school level?
Yes. Any outside group/organization conducting a school based event at the middle school level is required to submit specific information. This would apply to any entity to which a school, school board, booster club or other related entity issued payment for participation. In addition, the requirement would be in place for any event or entity designating the event as middle school in its promotional or organizational material.
The following is to be published and listed on the KHSAA website:
a) Annual financial reports of all sanctioned and approved events sponsored by the organization
b) Documentation of financial accountability including verification of federal status and tax documents including an annual IRS Form 990

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