CHARLOTTESVILLE — The Virginia High School League, the governing body of high school sports in Virginia, came out with a press release late last week discussing spring sports, eligibility and other issues.
1. My child was offered a college scholarship, and now the school has rescinded it because their current player at that position is returning since the NCAA is granting college athletes an additional year of eligibility. My child needs a semester waiver to stay in high school. What are their options?
The NCAA increased the number of scholarships for next year to accommodate those incoming freshmen offered scholarships and for those current student athletes who wish to take advantage of the NCAA decision. Therefore, this is an issue related to the NCAA universities and colleges wishing to save money, and it is neither an NCAA or VHSL issue. Those high school athletes in this situation need to communicate their concerns with the schools wishing to withdraw scholarship offers.
2. What is the VHSL’s position on Spring sport athletes being granted an extra year of eligibility like the NCAA?
The VHSL and NCAA are uniquely different organizations. While there is a semester waiver appeal process, there are multiple concerns relative to granting such waivers. They include but are not limited to:
• Students having already met graduation requirements.
• Unlike the NCAA, no post graduate opportunities exist for high school students that include eligibility within the school system.
• Semester eligibility has historically only been granted in serious medical conditions (cancer treatment, heart operations, major car accidents) that led to the student’s inability to both complete course work and participate for a year or longer.
• Semester waivers have historically been granted for an entire school year, not a single semester or sport season. Granting eligibility just to Spring athletes does not match the consistency with which this rule has been previously applied.
3. Why doesn’t the VHSL just grant every student an extra year of eligibility?
The answer is multi-faceted and includes but may not be limited to:
• Those who have met graduation requirements would not be eligible to return to high school and participate.
• Allowing some students 5 years of a sport violates the semester rule, and Fall and Winter athletes would not be eligible if they have had four seasons to participate.
• Allowing students who have not played four years of a sport an extra year is also inconsistent with the semester rule, which states a student has 8 consecutive semesters of opportunity to participate, beginning with their entrance to the 9th grade.
• Semester waivers have historically been granted for unique medical conditions that affected the student’s ability to attend school and participate for an extended period of time (a year or longer in some cases).
• A rule change of this magnitude would require the approval of the VHSL Executive Committee through its two-vote rule change process.
VHSL Schedules and Deadlines
1. Why hasn’t the VHSL committed to playing Spring sports contests in July and August?
There are multiple reasons that no decision has been made at this time. They include:
• It has not been determined exactly when it will be safe to return to anything close to a normal existence, much less the level and time at which extracurricular activities would be considered.
• Schools are faced with many issues during this time including providing learning opportunities, determining grading structures, conducting major school events such as graduation, and potentially eliminating required seat time. To undertake and then allow extracurricular activities would seem quite inconsistent and highly disingenuous.
• VHSL Physicals expire at the end of June. Additionally, many physicians have postponed or cancelled well visits. Students receiving an updated physical has the potential to be very inconsistent or an impossible option deep into the summer.
• School student insurance for a school system expires in most cases sometime in June. The cost to receive a rider is not likely to be something school systems will have the ability to add.
• Some students have alerted the VHSL that their travel teams have what they consider important events scheduled for the Summer. Adding the high school component would create issues that these students would like to avoid.
2. What is the status relative to Fall sports?
It is too early to make any definitive decision(s) relative to any sports and activities for the Fall of 2020. Staff is monitoring the current situation and gathering all appropriate available information to establish “what if” protocols should they become necessary.
3. Are VHSL deadlines still in force?
There are some notable adjustments to the deadlines as published by the VHSL. They include:
• Coaches Eligibility Form – Deadline moved from May 1 to August 4
• Participation Survey – Deadline moved to August 4
• Membership Application – Deadline Moved to August 4
• Football Schedules – Deadline moved from May 1 to June 15
VHSL Awards and Scholarships
1. What is the status of VHSL Awards and Scholarships?
• The VHSL Scholarship Applications are in the process of being reviewed, and the scholarships will be awarded for the 2019-2020 school year.
• The Wells Fargo Awards for Sports and Activities yearlong accomplishments will not be awarded this year as the Spring season is a critical component of those awards.
• The Claudia Dodson Sportsmanship, Ethics, and Integrity Award will not be awarded this year.
• The VHSL Stay in the Game Award will not be given out this year. However, schools that received no ejections in either the Fall and/or Winter will be recognized for those accomplishments on the VHSL website.
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