04/21/13 – Changes to KHSAA High School Rules Approved by KBE
Each year, the KHSAA must submit through KDE, any requested changes to 702 KAR 7:065 effecting governance of high school athletics. Pursuant to KRS 156.070 (2), the Kentucky Board of Education is responsible for all levels of interscholastic athletics in all grades, and has delegated such authority to the KHSAA for many years. Annually, requests for changes to regulations for interscholastic athletic competition at the high school level are submitted from a variety of sources through the KHSAA Board of Control. Normally, this involves a proposed set of changes that are voted on in the fall by the membership, then approved by the Board of Control, and subsequently reviewed as part of 702 KAR 7:065 by the Kentucky Board of Education. After these steps, the proposed changes are taken to the legislature through the Administrative Regulation Review Subcommittee, for final approval.
This year was unusual in that in the midst of the regular review of potential changes at the high school level, the Kentucky Board of Education also had to discuss issues and policy considerations reviewed by the legislative Task Force on Middle School Athletics, formed as a result of the passage of 2012 HCR 155 of the Kentucky General Assembly. Most if not all of the recommendations contained in that report revolved around health and safety of the students, and the members of the Task Force were not swayed in their recommendations by past practice, but only with the best interests of the students in mind from a health and safety perspective.
At its April meeting, the Kentucky Board of Education reviewed and approved the second reading of several changes to this regulation which will be effective in July, following final approval through the legislative process. The regulation as approved is listed at http://portal.ksba.org/public/Meeting/Attachments/DisplayAttachment.aspx?AttachmentID=163594. The changes have now been given two independent readings by the Kentucky Board of Education and have the support of the Local Superintendents Advisory Council. The following summarizes the changes made at the high school level:
Playing “up” to the high school level
For many years, legislation (KRS 156.070(2)(c)) has barred any local Board of Education (including the Kentucky Board of Education and its designee to manage interscholastic athletics, the Kentucky High School Athletic Association) from barring participation at the high school level by 7th and 8th grade students, unless those restrictions involved soccer and football. Students not yet enrolled in grade seven (7) were not directly regulated as far as the allowances for participation, except at the local level. Students in grades seven (7) and eight (8) will continue to be allowed to compete provided they are not in conflict with any other KHSAA bylaw.
During the middle school Task Force, compelling testimony was given that from a sports medicine and health perspective, the co-mingling of students below grade six (6) and high school students in an athletic environment, including locker rooms, travel, etc., is not in the younger student’s best interest. Research showed a compelling probability of bullying situations, differences in maturity and physical development, and a pattern of successful positive practices in other states where segregation of the two age groups was best for the students involved. While it was recognized that there is the occasional elite athlete capable of physically competing with high school students, this factor was not compelling when factored against the reasons to stop such play. In addition, it was noted that play at the high school level is expected to be school and education based, not necessarily community based, and the positives gained from a restriction outweighed the negatives.
- Beginning with the 2014-2015 school year, students below grade seven (7) will not be permitted to play at any level (freshman, junior varsity or varsity) of high school athletics.
- Students who have participated at the high school level (during any period defined by Bylaw 25) prior to the conclusion of the 2013-2014 school year will be “grandfathered” in to the regulation, and allowed to continue to compete at the high school level provided such participation is not in conflict with any other bylaw.
- This phase-in will be completed by the start of the 2016-2017 school year, at which point no student below grade seven (7) will have a participation opportunity at the high school level.
- During 2014-2015 and 2015-2016, only those students who have participated on the high school level (freshman, junior varsity or varsity) prior to the conclusion of the 2013-2014 school year will be permitted to continue such participation.
Other Editorial Changes
Throughout the regulation, changes were made to various sections to clearly delineate the differences between the existing high school regulations, and the new middle school regulations.
KHSAA Bylaw Changes
KBE also gave approval to changes in the KHSAA Constitution and Bylaws per votes conducted among the member high schools. Included in those proposals were:
- Technical amendments to Bylaw 5 (Minimum Academic Requirement) to specify that measurements for proper grade level are against the credits officially recorded to the transcript, and reinstatement to athletics is based solely on the original school academic calendar;
- Substantive Amendments totally overhauling Bylaw 7 (Foreign Students) to make clear that 1) only CSIET approved agency students are eligible on a J-1 VISA; 2) criteria for the waiver of the one-year period were clearly delineated; and 3) A waiver may not be granted if athletic advantage can be proven. In addition, the technical Federal requirements for students on F-1 VISAs will also be incorporated into the rule. As a result of these changes, Bylaw 7 will be divided into multiple bylaws for clarity upon final printing;
- A technical amendment to Bylaw 11 to specify that coaches/players sitting out games due to ejection will have the suspension games be based on the published schedule at the time of the ejection;
- Bylaw 14 was modernized based on the need to remove outdated requirements for paper verification, etc.;
- Bylaws 18, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24 and 28 as well as the KHSAA Constitution were amended to make it clear the requirements for competition between and among schools, including the removal of many outdated requirements;
- Bylaw 25 was amended to specify that in sports and sports activities conducted involving member school coaches during the school year but outside the season as defined by bylaw 25, competition can not be held on a member school campus if the competition involves more than half of a normal team (in other words, if more than five baseball players from the same school were on a team, they could not play games on that campus). This will continue to allow for small group and individual instruction, but preclude the conducting of a “second season” in a different time of year;
- Bylaw 25 was also amended to minimize the regulatory requirements for the sport-activities of Archery, Bass Fishing, Bowling and Competitive Cheer; and
- Bylaws 29, 30 and 31 were consolidated with respect to officials.
Many of the bylaws will be renumbered prior to publication for 2013-2014, and staff will produce additional helpful documents in the months to follow.
Please feel free to email the Commissioner’s office if you have any questions.