Saturday, February 20, 1999

H A W A I I _P R E P _ S P O R T S

ILH gets tough
on transfers

A two-year retention rule
is designed to deter recruiting

By Pat Bigold


The Interscholastic League of Honolulu has taken an unprecedented step to appease public school suspicions of recruiting.

Regarded by public schools as a "levelling of the playing field," the move might make possible a true state high school football tournament agreement by early next month.

Sources told the Star-Bulletin that the ILH has doubled its athletic eligibility penalty in all sports for high school transfer students who are held back a year. ILH officials informed the state's other four leagues of the change in a closed-door meeting yesterday.

Top-level ILH representatives met with executive secretaries of the Oahu Interscholastic Association, the Maui Interscholastic League, the Kauai Interscholastic Federation and the Big Island Interscholastic Federation.

Bickering over the ILH's unwillingness to compromise on football eligibility led to a vote last month by OIA principals to end a 26-year-old association with the Prep Bowl.

The new rule will require in-state transfer students who are held back upon enrollment in the ILH school to sit out their specialty sport for two consecutive years. This will apply even to those who come in as repeat freshmen.

An exception will be made for transfer students who have changed residence with their parents or guardians and enrolled in an ILH school. Such students who are held back upon enrollment will have to sit out sports only the repeat year.

The sources said the severity of the new policy came as a surprise to public school officials long concerned about what's been unofficially termed the ILH's "redshirt" policy. The ILH has defended its policy of allowing transfer students to repeat a year in which they abstain from interscholastic sports but participate for the following years.

But now, for example, a sophomore who transfers into an ILH school and is immediately held back can expect to play only his or her senior year at that school.

The sources said the rule could discourage ILH schools from holding back students with the intent of maturing them athletically.

They also said that some weaker programs in the ILH are glad to see the new rule, believing it will somewhat curb the league's perennial powerhouses.

The Hawaii High School Athletic Association, which has a state tournament proposal in place already, will convene its executive board early next month. The board has the power to approve a state football tournament.

The ILH, OIA, MIL, KIF and BIIF are all expected to favor the tournament. Sources said officials are anxious to begin work on finding a major sponsor, work out revenue sharing with the leagues and solve logistical problems of transporting teams from island to island.

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