Rising senior basketball star Zach Price (6-10, 230 lbs), a University of Louisville verbal commitment, is transferring from his school in Lakewood, Ohio, to Jeffersontown High School in Louisville for his final season of high school competition. Price is a four-star recruit and top-75 player in Rival.com's Top 150 for the 2011 class.
On its face, a player moving from Ohio to Louisville is a seemingly innocuous move, until one reads what the young man told the Louisville Courier-Journal about his family's impending relocation: From the June 17, 2010 Courier-Journal:
"I am definitely coming down there (to Louisville), but I don't necessarily know what (high) school yet. It's going to be a great thing having all the Louisville fans there. I will be able to do things I was not necessarily able to do at my other high school. I will be able to go to campus and watch games firsthand every weekend."
Price again spoke to the Courier-Journal, this time to announce his decision to attend J'Town after also considering Eastern, Ballard, PRP, Butler, and Central High Schools in Louisville: From a Jody Demling blog entry dated July 12, 2010:
"I came to the decision that's where I had a good chemistry with the team and I really liked the style of play. Some of the other schools were not the ideal image I had for my final year. It seemed like the best fit for me."
"I am so excited about it. I still have a lot of unfinished business in AAU but I can't wait to get down there. I went to watch a couple of (J'Town's) summer league games and I liked the way they were a pass-first team. They were so unselfish."
Adding a dash of spice to the proceedings is the fact that Jeffersontown head basketball coach Jeff Morrow is a former manager and administrative assistant to U of L coach Rick Pitino. Of course, the Zach Price transfer comes on the heels of the announcement that Tony Kimbro, Jr. will be transferring to Jeffersontown after spending two years in North Carolina, after playing his freshman season a duPont Manual.
Now, there is nothing remotely unethical or immoral about a committed recruit wanting to move closer to his college of choice. Actually, it might be an excellent idea. As Price said, he will now have the opportunity "to go to campus and watch games firsthand every weekend."
The fly in the ointment, though, is the apparent evaluation and auditioning of Jefferson County high schools by Price to determine which school best fits his athletic needs. This fact runs contrary to KHSAA bylaws concerning transfers, which are intended to "deter transfers due to recruiting or athletic reasons." And Price's impending transfer to J'Town, is, by Price's own admission, due to purely athletic reasons.
The pertinent bylaws concerning student-athlete transfers in the Commonwealth of Kentucky:
Bylaw 6. Transfer Rule - Domestic Students (non-foreign exchange students)
"Any student who has been enrolled in grades nine (9) through twelve (12) and has participated in any varsity contest in any sport at any school following enrollment in grade nine (9) and who then transfers schools shall be ineligible for interscholastic athletics at any level in any sport for one year from the date of enrollment in the new school."
"The commissioner has the discretion (but is not required) to waive the period of eligibility set forth above if one or more of the following exceptions in Section 2 has been met. Determinations of whether a student shall be granted a waiver pursuant to this rule shall be based on the circumstances existing as of the date of enrollment at the new school."
Discretionary Exceptions of Waiver
a) Bona Fide Change in Residence b) Divorce c) Change in Custody d) Death e) Boarding Schools f) Non-Athletic Participation for an Entire School Year g) Reassignment by Board of Education h) Transfer from non-member school (in Kentucky) i) Military Assignment
Yes, Price will have a "bona fide change in residence," but in this case, the student-athlete's motivation for attending Jeffersontown is unrelated to the actual move. The decision to attend J'Town is based solely on athletic reasons.
From the KHSAA handbook; a reason for denial of a waiver:
Bylaw 6. Transfer Rule - Domestic Students
Spec. 3) Specific Restrictions of Denial of *Waiver
c) If the change in schools is motivated in whole or part by a desire to participate in athletics at the new school.
The reason for the existence of the above bylaw, according to the KHSAA handbook:
Case BL-6-2- Why is there a transfer rule?
1) These rules prevent and deter transfers due to recruiting or athletic reasons.
The question many might have is this: How is the Price transfer any different than the hundreds of student-athlete transfers that have taken place over the last several years? Well, first and foremost, I've never read, or heard of a student-athlete refer to what amounts to an audition of prospective schools in an effort to discern which school is best suited for his/her athletic endeavors. Vinny Zollo ( From Ohio to Clark Co.), Dakota Euton & Chad Jackson (From Rose Hill Christian to Scott Co.), Aaron Cosby (Manual to J'Town - Then transferred to a prep school in Massachusetts), Chane Behanan (Cincinnati to Bowling Green High School) and many others have transferred into schools, but athletic reasons were (smartly) not given as the determining factor in their high school selection.
Make no mistake; I don't give one whit where Zach Price attends high school, but this situation seems to me to be ripe for the KHSAA's picking. Furthermore, if new KHSAA commissioner Julian Tackett is serious about at least attempting to put a stop to the shenanigans (e.g. recruiting, transfers for athletic purposes) which have permeated Kentucky high school athletics for decades, this would be an excellent starting point.
Thanks for reading and Go 'Cats!