MOUNT VERNON — Student-athletes are required to attend the school for which they are competing. But until this summer, that wasn’t the written rule.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association clarified a rule in May requiring home-schooled student-athletes to attend at least one class within a “brick-and-mortar building.”
Previously, there was no such wording. Home-schooled students only needed to fulfill classes offered by the school, even if they were online.
Centerburg was forced to forfeit all of its wins by the varsity and junior-varsity football teams because of this change.
The girls basketball team also had to forfeit three of its wins. The school says two students were not in compliance with this policy.
When OHSAA changes or clarifies a rule in its by-laws, there is a set process which the organization has to go through. First, it collects all proposals over the course of the school year. The group then decides which ones are worth considering, and presents those in a series of compliance meetings throughout the state.
“We hold those meetings in April,” OHSAA administrator Bob Goldring said. “We present them to athletic directors and coaches to get their feedback.”
This year, the biggest focus of these meetings was “flex credit,” the concept of earning class credits while working on the job or in an internship basis. But Goldring says all potential changes are presented.
“It’s a big list,” East Knox athletic director Derick Busenberg said. “There’s a lot of changes every year.”
Goldring is certain the brick-and-mortar clarification was included in the meetings.
“We have lists for all those in attendance,” Goldring said. “But not all of (the proposals) are passed.”
The proposals are voted on by a team of athletic directors, coaches and OHSAA administrators in May. The results of these votes are e-mailed to school principals and posted on the OHSAA website.
Those that pass are presented to OHSAA’s quarterly meeting in June. Each one is put on the meeting’s minutes, which are also e-mailed to schools and placed on the web.
Goldring says it’s then up to principals to communicate these new rules and regulations to athletic directors and coaches.
“It would be hard to miss them,” Goldring said. “But they can be lengthy lists. I suppose if you’re wearing multiple hats, you could end up passing up some of them.”
Athletic/activities directors at Mount Vernon, Fredericktown and East Knox were all aware of the changes. All three say they met with the coaches to discuss any changes that needed to be made. In the case of the brick-and-mortar clarification, no change was necessary.
Mount Vernon High School activities director Jim Gastin said the district already had the rule in place.
“We actually require that a student must live in the district and be enrolled in the school,” Gastin said. “They are then required to attend at least one class in the building.”
Gastin says that’s been the rule for at least 20 years.
“Our rules are actually not as strict as some,” Gastin said. “There are some schools (in the Ohio Capital Conference) that require at least a half-day in the building.”
It isn’t just OCC schools. Fredericktown has such a policy.
“Our board policy is that you have to have the equivalent of five classes, and you have to take three of them here,” said Fredericktown athletic director Kirk Manns. “It’s been a policy here ever since I can remember.”
East Knox’s policy is even more strict.
“Students have to be physically in a class for five periods (before they are eligible for sports),” Busenberg said.
Calls to athletic directors at Utica and Danville high schools were not returned at press time.