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Decision Number
Evan P.
Stephen and Patti P.
Iowa High School Athletic Association
Full Text

The Appellants sought reversal of a decision that the IHSAA Board of Control made as a result of a hearing before it on August 26, 2015, finding that Dowling Catholic High School student Evan P. is ineligible to compete in varsity interscholastic athletics for 90 consecutive school days under paragraphs "a"(4) and "a"(8) of the general transfer rule, 281?IAC 36.15(3).

The Director of the Department of Education examined the IHSAA Board of Control's application of the transfer rule to Evan to see whether the Board abused its discretion. "Abuse of discretion is synonymous with unreasonableness, and a decision is unreasonable when it is based on an erroneous application of law or not based on substantial evidence." City of Dubuque v. Iowa Utilities Bd., 2013 WL 85807, 4 (Iowa App. 2013), citing Sioux City Cmty. Sch. Dist. v. Iowa Dep't of Educ., 659 N.W.2d 563, 566 (Iowa 2003) (holding that the Iowa Department of Education erred when it did not apply the abuse of discretion standard). See also Indiana High School Athletic Ass'n, Inc. V. Carlberg by Carlberg, 694 N.E.2d 222 (Ind. 1997), in which the Indiana Supreme Court determined that decisions of the Indiana High School Athletic Association based on its transfer rule (very similar to the transfer rule of the IHSAA) are reviewed for arbitrary and capriciousness. 694 N.E.2d at 233.

"The transfer rules ? are reasonably related to the IHSAA's purpose of deterring situations where transfers are not wholesomely motivated." In re R.J. Levesque, 17 D.o.E. App. Dec. 317 (1999). No harm is done to the transfer rules by acknowledging that Evan P. has immediate eligibility at Dowling Catholic High School.

The Appellants' insistence that the Board was intent on obstructing Evan's eligibility was not supported by fact and did Evan no favors. The transfer rules are tricky to administer and, despite the best efforts of the State Board of Education, which promulgated the rules, were not written with the clarity of, say, a criminal code. There is no evidence that the staff of IHSAA and its Board acted in anything other than good faith in fulfilling their duties. It just happens to be that in this appeal, the IHSAA and its Board were incorrect when they applied the General Transfer Rule and determined that Evan is ineligible to participate in varsity interscholastic athletics for a period of 90 days. That decision was an erroneous application of the law, and is therefore an abuse of discretion.

The September 2, 2015 decision of the Board of Control of the Iowa High School Athletic Association that Evan P. is ineligible to compete in varsity interscholastic athletics at Dowling Catholic High School for a period of 90 consecutive school days is REVERSED.