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Decision Number
Cooper Rose
Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment
Iowa High School Athletic Association
Full Text

Cooper Rose has attended Maharishi, a nonpublic school located within the boundaries of the Fairfield Community School District, since kindergarten. However, his family transferred his enrollment to the public school solely because they could not afford the tuition at Maharishi at the start of the 2003-04 school year. Cooper completed his first semester and then was able to transfer back to Maharishi. Cooper wants to play tennis, a sport that Fairfield also offers. The facts were agreed upon and the issue at hand was whether a change in financial circumstances should be viewed as enough of an extenuating circumstance to allow Cooper relief from the required 90-day ineligibility period in interscholastic athletics.

This case falls under the "General Transfer Rule," 281 IAC 36.15(3), which IHSAA relied upon in determining Cooper's ineligibility. There is no subrule that specifically addresses a change in a family's finances. There are eight exceptions listed under 36.15(3). Exception 8 was the one applied to this case. In In re Marc Davies, 14 D.o.E. App. Dec. 314(1997), a case in which a student transferred from a nonpublic school to a public school because of a downturn in the family's financees, this agency determined that the "extenuating circumstances" exception did not apply in transfers between public and nonpublic schools. However, In re Malcolm Bevel, 21 D.o.E. App. Dec. 186(2002), the agency clarified that extenuating circumstances may be considered under appropriate circumstances in public to nonpublic and nonpublic to public transfers of students.

The inherent danger in considering changes in a family's financial status is that a family of unchanging low socioeconomic status does not merit similar consideration. It is simply an unwise policy to try to determine the point at which a family's financial ups and downs are significant enough to affect their child's eligibility to play interscholastic sports. Therefore, nothing regarding financial circumstances is to be considered in tyransfer eligibility cases.

Cooper has not been harmed by his ineligibility to compete. He is allowed by the rules to practice with the team and enjoy the camaraderie engendered by such association; he simply may not compete with his teammates at competitions and contests until the period of ineligibility has expired.

Evidence showed that Cooper's reasons for transferring back to Maharishi were not motivated by recruitment for athletic purposes. The General Transfer Rule is controlling and are reasonably related to achieving the Association's purpose in deterring school jumping and recruitment.

The February 12, 2004, decision of the Board of Control of the Iowa High School Athletic Association that Cooper Rose was ineligible to compete in interscholastic athletics for 90-consecutive school days at Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment was affirmed.