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Kentucky lawmakers object to regulation on athletic eligibility


A legislative panel objected to a regulation on Tuesday that requires student athletes who transfer from a public to a private high school or vice versa to sit out for a year.

The Administrative Regulation Review Subcommittee found the regulation to be deficient, generating calls from lawmakers for the State Board of Education to withdraw it.

State Sen. Dick Roeding, R-Lakeside Park, co-chairman of the subcommittee, said if the regulation isn’t withdrawn, he and other lawmakers will push for legislation that would override it.

“They are penalizing students in order to regulate the supposed recruiting of athletes, instead of penalizing the offending school,” Roeding said. “Why go after an innocent bystander and take away a year of eligibility. That’s really wrong.”

Under the regulation approved by the Board of Education earlier this year, high school athletes could still practice with their teams but not play in games.

The regulation was a softer version of a proposal that would have blocked transfer students in those situations from participating in their sport at the high school level for a year.

The new regulation had been expected to be in place for the 2008-09 school year.

“This borders on being unconstitutional,” Roeding said.

Debate over stricter sports eligibility rules has been raging between public and private schools for some time as part of a broader debate about athletics competition between them. Public school officials have complained that private schools recruit top players and have an unfair advantage by offering financial aid.

Under the plan lawmakers objected to, certain high schools and middle schools would be aligned along geographical boundaries as part of a feeder system. Students would have to attend the seventh and eighth grades in their high schools’ feeder systems or lose a year of eligibility.

An 18-member Kentucky High School Athletic Association control board approved a stricter version last summer that would have prevented pupils who transfer in those situations from participating in any way in athletics for a year.

Kentucky lawmakers considered a proposal earlier this year that would have pre-empted the new regulation, but that proposal died.

– Associated Press

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