The Challenges of Student Transfers for Athletics

Whether a school gets a few or many incoming transfer students each year, getting the transfer process done correctly is a big ordeal. There are several pieces of information that need to be effectively communicated between many different parties: the student’s previous school and their new school, the student’s family, the state school sports leagues, and between the enrollment office and athletic department of each school. 

There are numerous details that must be considered during the transfer process. Transfers are affected by whether a school offers open enrollment, where the student lives, when the student decides to transfer during the school year, whether the student’s residence is located within the school boundary, whether there are mitigating circumstances that would allow a student to participate at another school regardless of residency, or if a family goes through a divorce and therefore a student has more than one household address.

With so many details that must be considered, communication between everyone involved must be managed carefully. All the transfer paperwork needs to be completed by the student’s family and ultimately submitted to the league. Both the student’s previous school and new school need to track when a student leaves and if/when they return to the same school, managing the 15-day “changed mind” rule about transfers. Additionally, the new school’s athletic department must communicate with the student's previous school to review any outstanding violations that may exist and still need to be served. All these circumstances require the athletic departments’ careful attention to maintain compliance with both league rules and school rules.

Regardless of how the transfer process was managed within a school’s records, not being compliant with the league transfer process can revoke a student’s ability to participate in a sport or activity, can have an impact on the school’s league standing, and can even result in the forfeit of a game or a championship won by the school.

When we interviewed over 60 athletic directors, most said that they have some system in place to communicate with the enrollment office whenever new students transfer into the school and want to participate in an activity. However, that communication is not always reliable, so it’s very easy for transfer paperwork to fall through the cracks. Some athletic directors went so far as to say they are the last to know about transfers or must rely on their coaching staff to monitor for missed transfer students.

Affinety Solutions has developed technology to reduce the chance of information falling through the cracks during the transfer process. First, our data pipe technology gathers student transfer information from the Student Information System (SIS) daily. Our data pipe system then shares that information from the SIS with the Affinety athletic software, used by the school’s athletic department. The athletic system is configured to identify and alert users of any transfer date issues, which allows schools to place that student record on hold until the athletic department clears them to register online for a sport or activity.