Wednesday, April 23 2014, 09:23 AM MDT
UHSAA Sidelines Intermountain Christian School Soccer Player
By Matt Gephardt
Produced by Michelle Poe
Edited by Jay Hancock
Photography by Dave Thieme and Brian Morris
(KUTV) Heather Kanz has been playing soccer since she was nine year's old. But Heather will not be playing this year. She has been forbidden from doing so by the Utah High School Activities Association. The UHSAA says Heather is ineligible because she transferred schools after having played at her previous High School.
According to UHSAA bylaws, "Any student transferring from one high school to another shall lose eligibility for participation in association sponsored athletic activities for twelve months."
Heather’s mom says she applied for a waiver but the waiver request was denied because the UHSAA said Heather did not have a good enough reason for transferring schools.
This is not the first time the UHSAA has faced accusations of overly strict rule enforcement. East High School's football team was sanctioned and dropped from first place to fourth place after it played four ineligible players last October. The school ultimately was allowed to continue into the playoffs but all four players were forced to sit out.
Get Gephardt dug deeper and found that it is not uncommon for the UHSAA to allow a transferring student to play at a new school. According to UHSAA records, for the 2011 to 2012 school year, the association received 995 applications for transfers. Of those only six percent were denied. Still, 55 kids like Heather were forbidden from playing.
UHSAA Executive Director Rob Cuff says there is a good reason when kids are banned from playing. He says the rules exist to make sure it's a level playing field, not just for the transferring student but for those already on the team.
“That chance of displacing somebody that may have grown up in a community or been at a school and then all of a sudden these transfers come in and take their place,” Cuff said.
Cuff says that in order for a transferring student to be allowed to play, they must demonstrate some form of hardship. He said possible examples might include divorcing parents, a family move, or a situation where the student was not safe at their former school. Cuff says Heather's case doesn’t meet those requirements and he the system worked exactly as it is designed to do.
“It's fair in the opportunity that we have given a due process,” Cuff said. “They have had a hearing. They asked for an appeal. They've had an appeal. And now they've had a decision from an appeals committee which is final.”
Some parents have gone as far as taking the UHSAA to court over their children being forbidden from playing but in every single case that Get Gephardt could find, the parent lost when their case was presented to a judge.
Heather will sit out a year.
(Copyright 2013 Sinclair Broadcast Group)