04/23/13 – Changes Approved by KBE to Codify KHSAA Authority Over Middle School Athletics

April 23, 2013 Athletic Department Blog Updates

From the Commissioner:
In this document, I am going to try and summarize, in as concise a means as possible, the changes made to 702 KAR 7:065 which specify regulations for athletics at the middle school level. This first part will be about the regulation itself, and the changes
that will be made due to its passage. An additional document, which will be able to be revised and edited as more questions arise, will explain many of the changes in layman’s terms.

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. For most of that time, the regulations have focused on play
at the high school interscholastic level (grades 9-12). The Kentucky Board of Education has, for a couple of years, been reviewing issues related to participation in middle school interscholastic athletics. Originally, KBE asked KHSAA to convene a small committee
to review the situation regarding the lack of statewide regulations at the middle school level, and help determine what regulatory amendments were necessary to ensure the health and safety of the student participants. During the midst of that review, there
was a request for additional review by the General Assembly. A legislative Task Force on Middle School Athletics was formed as a result of the passage of 2012 HCR 155 of the Kentucky General Assembly. Following several months of meetings and deliberations,
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 702 KAR 7:065 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 middle school level:

Designation of the KHSAA to manage middle school interscholastic athletics
By virtue of these amendments to this key regulation, the KHSAA will be responsible for being the agent to manage middle school interscholastic athletics. Such management will be dramatically different at the middle school level than current high school
operations. Areas of focus will center on student safety, sports medicine, best practices, and the general welfare of the students as well as controls on specific outside groups who conduct middle school interscholastic events.

KHSAA Requirements:
In addition to those requirements listed in the specific areas below, the KHSAA shall:

  • Provide notice to the middle schools related to any program conducted by KHSAA related to education school administrators about the provisions of Title IX;
  • Provide a mechanism to facilitate the monitoring and tracking capabilities for the middle schools to ensure compliance with the provisions of KRS 160.445 (http://www.lrc.ky.gov/krs/160-00/445.PDF,
  • Provide the required sports safety course for coaches and required development of venue specific emergency action plans) and other coaching requirements;
  • Conduct all meetings related to middle school athletics in accordance with KRS 61.805 through 61.850;
  • Require that the common schools at the middle school level may only compete in contests against schools that adhere to these provisions; and
  • Issue an annual report to the Kentucky Board of Education on the status of interscholastic athletics at the middle school level, including any recommendations for changes in statute, regulation or policy.

Requirements for Coaches
The requirements for coaches in the middle school level will mirror the requirements at the high school level, but not be identical. Coaches at the middle school level (paid or unpaid) must meet the following criteria:

  • Shall be 21 years of age;
  • Shall not be a violent offender or convicted of a sex crime as defined by KRS 17.165 that is classified as a felony;
  • Shall submit to a criminal records check under KRS 160.380; and
  • Shall have graduated from a public or accredited high school.

Safety, Sports Medicine and Risk Minimization Changes

  • Before practicing or playing, each student must have a physical (KHSAA will develop specific form for middle school level) signed by a physician, physician’s assistant, advance practice registered nurse or chiropractor (if performed within the chiropractor’s scope of practice);
  • Middle school interscholastic teams shall adhere to all high school sports medicine policies including:
    • Heat Index and Heat Illness Programs;
    • Wrestling Weight Management Programs; and
    • Concussion and other head injury Policy Programs.

Creation of a Middle School Advisory Committee
The regulation calls for the creation of a Middle School Advisory Committee. This committee, which is to be autonomous from the high school Board of Control, will be appointed by the Commissioner in the initial phase. However, based on feedback and recommendations, a system of elections, terms and conditions will be developed. The Middle School Advisory Committee shall:

  • Be regionally distributed including middle school administrators from throughout the state;
  • Provide an opportunity for nonprofit athletic groups, parents and others to participate and provide input on sports, athletic events or other school district issues relative to middle school sports;
  • Meet not less than twice annually to review current programs and policies, make statutory or policy recommendations, and assist in the development of model guidelines for schools, districts, conferences and associations; and
  • Report regularly to the Commissioner of the KHSAA and work in conjunction with the Commissioner on a formal written annual report to the Kentucky Board of Education.

Requirements for groups that sponsor middle school interscholastic events:
Any organization conducting a school based event at the middle school level shall submit the following to the KHSAA, which shall then be published on the KHSAA web site:

  • Financial reports of all sanctioned and approved events; and
  • Documentation of financial accountability including verification of federal status and tax documents including an annual IRS Form 990.

Students repeating a grade in grades Six (6) through Eight (8)

  • Beginning with the 2014-2015 school year, any student repeating a grade for any reason in grades 6-8 will be ineligible to participate in middle school interscholastic athletics; and
  • During the 2013-2014 school year, the KHSAA is to ensure that all forms of communication efforts are utilized to inform the middle schools in the state of this coming restriction.

Students enrolled below grade nine (9) 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 Eligibility Rules to be Defined Locally
During the 2013-2014 school year, local schools/school districts/conferences or associations of schools will be required to develop rules and limitations with respect to the following:

  • A defined age limitation for participating students;
  • A policy regarding the participation of students below grade six (6);
  • A limitation on practice time prior to the season in any sport or sport-activity, such limit not to exceed the practice time adopted for play at the high school level;
  • A limitation on the number of scrimmages and regular contests in each sport or sport-activity, such limit not to exceed the allowable number of contests for that sport or sport-activity at the high school level; and
  • A limitation on the length of the competitive season in each sport or sport-activity, including any invitational activity following the season, such limit not to exceed the allowable number of contests for that sport or sport-activity at the high school level.

As the 2012-2013 school year concludes, additional guidance will continue to be provided by the staff of the KHSAA relative to the development of these additional rules.