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Times Record News (Wichita Falls, Texas)
Following a phone call from the UIL Wednesday, Wichita Falls ISD officials wished to clarify possible confusion changes being proposed to the district's policy on UIL eligibility.
The call came in response to an article first published on the Times Record News website Monday that also appeared in Tuesday's print edition.
For the UIL eligibility rules, attendance zones, physical changes of address, and interdistrict or intradistrict transfers are each handled differently.
"The policy changes that the board is recommending will mirror the UIL constitution's recommendations," WFISD Communications Director Ashley Thomas stated in an email to the Times Record News Thursday.
The proposed policy that was presented at the WFISD Board of Trustees work session Tuesday was reviewed by UIL officials prior to being recommended to the school board, Athletic Director Scot Hafley stated in a subsequent email.
When it comes to attendance zones and UIL eligibility, "the first time a student is officially enrolled in their appropriate attendance zone high school and/or attends an in-season practice, the student shall have established eligibility in that high school for UIL purposes," according to the proposed policy changes.
As long as the student lives in that zone physically and attends that school, they are eligible to play varsity athletics at that high school. If he or she moves residences or elects to transfer to a different school, then additional factors come into consideration for UIL eligibility.
"Right now, when a student does an intradistrict transfer they must sit out for one year (365 days) before being eligible to play," Thomas stated. "With the policy change, students will take their eligibility with them and be eligible to play at the beginning of their freshman year.
"However, if that student transfers back to their assigned attendance zone school they will have to sit out 365 days then."
Thomas gave the example of a current eighth-grader who lives in the Wichita Falls High School attendance zone but wishes to transfer to Rider High School as a freshman.
"I am eligible to play varsity athletics at the beginning of my freshman year," she stated in the example. "However, if I don't make the team and decide to transfer back to Wichita Falls High School, I will have to sit out 365 days before I am allowed to play again."
In the eyes of the UIL, those rules change when the student physically moves to a new address in a different attendance zone.
According to the UIL Constitution and Contest Rules in Subchapter M, Section 400, "an individual is eligible to participate in a UIL varsity contest as a representative of a member school if that individual: ... (c) has been in regular attendance at the member school since the sixth class day of the present school year or has been in enrolled and in regular attendance for 15 or more calendar days before the contest or competition (student becomes eligible on the fifteenth day)."
In the proposed WFISD policy change, "if a student moves to another WFISD attendance zone, the student will be ineligible for varsity UIL competition for fifteen days as long as the move was not made for athletic purposes."
Hafley clarified in the email that "it deals with a physical move of address not a transfer."
In the revised policy, a proposed change states that "if the move was made for athletic reasons, it could result in permanent ineligibility."
However, Thomas noted "the district cannot determine if a student is permanently ineligible. That decision is made by a District Executive Committee made up of area superintendents and athletic directors."
Similar factors are weighed into decisions of a student's eligibility for varsity sports when he or she transfers to a WFISD school from another district.
"A student transferring from out of district shall follow the same guidelines for varsity eligibility as students transferring within the district," the proposed policy states. "If eligibility has been established at the district of residence, the transfer will result in a loss of varsity eligibility for one year."
Thomas noted that students transferring into the district who do not live in Wichita Falls must sit out 365 days before being eligible to play.
"However, if somebody moves into the district (lives in Wichita Falls) they are eligible to play right away," she stated.
If approved Monday by the WFISD Board of Trustees, the proposed policy would go into effect for the 2018-19 school year.
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