By David Purdum / For the AJC
After covering high school athletics for more than a decade, including the last seven years in Georgia, I’ve come to the realization that I’m pro-transfer.
If a parent believes their son or daughter has a better opportunity to earn a scholarship if they attend another program, I say move. Make it a bona fide one, like the Georgia High School Association requires, of course, but I can’t criticize anyone for doing what they believe is in the best interest of their child.
Financially, with the skyrocketing cost of college tuition, it’s cheaper to move in most cases. Plus, it’s tough to put a value on providing your child with a better shot at making it to the next level. If that’s not the No. 1 goal of high school sports, what is?
More than 6,000 Georgia high school student-athletes transferred and applied to play varsity sports immediately at their new school in 2010-2011.
Gary Phillips, assistant executive director for the GHSA, said his office has been reviewing more than 20 transfer applications a day as the school year kicks off. An estimated 20 percent have to be returned to the schools for further information, Phillips said. GHSA executive director Dr. Ralph Swearngin, along with Phillips, have decades of experience and have taken steps to make the review process as efficient as possible. But do the math: With more than 6,000 applications—and more than 1,000 requiring a second review—time spent on each transfer request is very limited at best.
In addition, Phillips has to deal with an increased number of complaints about coaches “recruiting” players from other schools at this time of year. I’ve heard rumors of coaches popping in at a Dairy Queen, for example, that happens to be an after-school hangout for players from a near-by team. In Louisiana, I’ve seen coaches from a feeder system to a powerful private school lined up at Pop Warner games. But I don’t think coach-to-player recruiting is as rampant as some believe. The majority of coaches I’ve spoken say players interested in transferring come to them, not the other way around.
“Most of the recruiting complaints don’t play out,” Phillips said. “People always like to come to us with rumors instead of proof. In most cases, it’s parent-to-parent communication when it comes to transfers.”
Phillips said the most common argument from those who oppose transfers is the rich getting richer, making it hard for schools to catch up. Meanwhile, schools are using resources to hire private investigators to look into the legitimacy of out-going transfers. What would happen if a program re-allocated those funds and spent them on making their own program more attractive to players?
In the end, transfers will remain a polarizing topic, one that I will be covering throughout the football season. If you have story tips or concerns, please email me at email@example.com.