ASAA toughens eligibility rules

Posted: Wednesday, March 02, 2005

ANCHORAGE (AP) — The rules concerning Alaska high school sports just got tougher.

The Alaska School Activities Association board of directors voted Monday to overhaul athletic eligibility and academic rules.

The changes will take effect with the new school year in the fall. Beginning then, high school athletes will no longer be allowed to use the increasingly popular fifth-year-senior status or transfer during the summer without moving.

High school athletes also will face stricter educational requirements if they hope to keep playing sports.

''I want ASAA to be seen as a leader, and I think we did that today,'' said Todd Arndt, the Anchorage School District's supervisor of high school education and ASAA's Region IV representative. ''We set some high standards for kids in athletics.''

The board eliminated the summer transfer rule, which allowed students to transfer during the summer from one school to another within Alaska and remain eligible without a change of residence. Students who transfer during the school year without a parental move will have to sit out a semester before becoming eligible to compete, as they do now.

The board voted to limit students to eight consecutive semesters of eligibility after they begin the ninth grade.

Regarding academic guidelines, ASAA now requires a student to:

Pass five semester units the previous semester, up from four.

Be enrolled in five semester units during the season, also up from four.

Have a C or 2.0 grade-point average for the previous semester, up from ''passing,'' or a D-minus.

Maintain a 2.0 GPA during the season of eligibility for the first quarter, first semester, third quarter and second semester.

The academic standards apply not just to athletics but to activities such as fine arts, music, debate and cheerleading, anything that has a state-level competition.

Many board members have long pushed for these changes, which align Alaska's eligibility guidelines with many of those in the Lower 48.

Originally, ASAA's fifth-year eligibility rule was written to allow athletes who suffered some kind of hardship — often a medical hardship — the opportunity to recoup a lost season.

The rule later was relaxed to help students who had suffered academically early in their high school career, giving them an opportunity to return to school to complete the credits needed for graduation.

Those students will be able to return to school and complete their studies, but they won't be allowed to compete in sports.

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