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Decision Number
Anthony Modicue & Robterrius Emerson
Donald & Mary McNeal
Iowa High School Athletic Association
Full Text

Appellants seek reversal of a decision of the Board of Control of the IHSAA made on August 28, 2003, that Anthony and Rob are ineligible for 90 school days to compete in interscholastic athletics following their transfers to the Sergeant Bluff-Luton Community School District from secondary schools in Louisiana. Rob is the oldest of 7 children, all of whom still reside with their mother in Monroe, Louisiana. Rob's sister is a sister of Anthony's mother and of Appellant Mary McNeal. Rob is 16 years old. Anthony is a 17-year-old junior attending his first semester at Sergeant Bluff-Luton High School. His mother and five siblings reside in Monroe, Louisiana. Anthony attended Carroll High School and Rob attended Richmond High School.

On August 1, 2003, the McNeals were appointed guardians over Rob's person. Rob was registered to attend high school in Sergeant Bluff-Luton but returned to Monroe in late August. He is attending his old high school and is competing on that high school's football team. Although Rob no longer resides with them, the guardianship had not been terminated as of the date of this hearing.

Don McNeal is a former resident of Monroe, Louisiana and testified at length regarding the poverty-stricken, high-crime environment from which he, Anthony and Rob came. Mr. McNeal described Monroe as a very segregated city in which young African-American males have little chance of gainful employment. Having successfully moved all of his side of the family from Monroe to Sioux City, Mr. McNeal and his wife are attempting to relocate Mrs. McNeal's mother and two sisters (Rob and Anthony's mothers). So far, Anthony is the only relative of Mrs. McNeal to leave Monroe. Anthony testified that he had also attended 8th grade at West Middle School in Sioux City, but had moved in with other relatives in another state. He moved back to the McNeal's residence, following a move home to Louisiana. The McNeals are now court-appointed guardians of Anthony by the Woodbury County District Court as of August 29, 2003. There was some indication at this hearing that Rob may return to live with the McNeals if he could be assured of immediate eligibility. This agency does not issue advisory opinions so a student may determine where to enroll. Therefore, the appeal as to Rob is dismissed.

Guardianships are statutorily part of Iowa's Probate Code, chapter 633 of the Iowa Code. According to Iowa Code section 125.2(14), an unemancipated minor who is not a ward of the state "is deemed to reside where the parent having legal custody or the legal guardian" resides. The McNeals cite the motivating factors for Anthony's transfer as twofold: leaving a single-parent household for a two-parent household and getting away from a dangerous environment. The first reason has no merit, since many children live and flourish in single-parent households.The second factor is more challenging.

In prior cases, an exception to the General Transfer Rule has been made only where there has been a "significant and serious disruption in the family unit which causes a serious disfunctioning of the family unit as a whole." The majority of courts, including the federal courts in Iowa, have ruled that there is no "right" to participate in interscholastic athletics. Anthony is allowed by the rules to practice with the team and enjoy the camaraderie of his teammates.

That the August 28, 2003, decision of the Board of Control of the Iowa High School Athletic Association that Anthony Modicue is ineligible to compete in interscholastic athletics at Sergeant Bluff-Luton for 90 school days was affirmed.