New Jersey State Sen. Richard Codey plans to introduce a bill that would penalize athletes who repeat a grade in middle school in order to get an athletic advantage in high school.
According to NJ Advance Media, the bill would limit student athletes who repeat grades six, seven or eight to just three years, or six semesters of athletic eligibility once they begin high school. That would apply to all levels of play, from freshman teams up to varsity. The bill would punish athletes, regardless of whether they are academically on track.
Currently, a student athlete is eligible to compete in high school sports if he or she turns 19 after Sept. 1 of that school year. Athletes only have eligibility for four consecutive years after entering high school.
A growing number of athletes around the country are “redshirting” prior to entering high school in order gain an advantage. The extra year gives athletes time to grow, becoming bigger, stronger, faster and more polished, attracting the attention of coaches and recruiters alike.
“This issue has been digging at me for years,” Codey, also a youth basketball coach, said.
“Right now, it’s not cheating, but we know it is. It’s trying to game the system,” he said.
Currently, there are no rules against repeating a grade. The bill would change the rules and ban non-compliant high schools from competing for state championships.
Codey said he plans to introduce the proposed bill later this month or in early November. If it passes, it could signal a change for high school athletics across the country.