High school coaches in this state have a lot to worry about when it comes to transfers. According to GHSA rules, if a transfer was confronted at all by “undue influence,” schools can be in violation of the transfer and recruiting rules. As discussed in a previous story in Score Atlanta, “undue influence” covers a lot of areas.
In light of the David Boyd investigation at Milton, one of the state’s most prominent basketball programs, accusations and rumors have been flying about some of the other top programs in the state, especially in football and basketball.
In a transient area like Atlanta, however, schools are on top of each other due to population clusters and people are more likely to move for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons is for kids to get the best education, and sometimes, to play for the best local program.
“There’s probably not a school in the state that doesn’t have somebody move in or somebody leave,” said Lassiter coach Jep Irwin. “I think it’s just a fact of life in high school football, especially in the metro area where parents are willing to move and it’s not that far of a move. … Parents are more willing to do that and they want to take their kids to a place where they can be successful.”
Irwin knows, as his program took in five transfers during the offseason from area programs. The armada of transfers to Lassiter came just one year after running back Tyren Jones left the Lassiter district to move further south in the eastern part of Cobb County to rival Walton, where Jones has starred the past two seasons. While many in the Trojan Nation were furious about the loss of a future star to a rival program, Irwin can understand why families transfer.
“I think transfers are a fact of life. I think it’s the parents’ right, if they want to move somewhere and take a kid somewhere, then they just want what’s best for their kid,” said Irwin. “Obviously, we have a tremendous school just like Walton does, so it’s a lot more attractive for someone to think about moving into an area where it’s a great place to live and a great school. It’s just kind of a trend we’re going through right now.”
While football coaches are just now adjusting to the trend, hoops coaches have perfected the art of the transfer over the last decade or two. Some of the top high school players in the nation move to better high school programs during their careers, sometimes on multiple occasions.
Making sure the new transfers are enrolled properly and legally moved in according to GHSA rules is of high importance to Wheeler’s Doug Lipscomb and Norcross’ Jesse McMillan, coaches of two of the top programs in the state.
McMillan detailed the process Norcross uses to make sure all Blue Devils transfers are handled well within GHSA rules.
“Basically what happens, and what is normal, is when the parents call the school or come by the school to talk, normally, they’re directed to our counseling office and our athletic director, and they’ll sit and talk to the athletic director and he’ll lay everything out as far as what the requirements are for admissions,” said McMillan. “So the counseling department will provide them with the requirements they need to gain admission, which is the residency in our district, the proof of utilities and the official withdrawal from the previous school.”
Lipscomb goes far to make sure his kids are moved into the Wheeler district.
“I’m going to take (the player) home and make sure that’s where he lives,” said Lipscomb. “I don’t have a problem with giving a kid a ride home.”
While transfers remain a growing trend in high school athletics, investigations are rare, which shows that most coaches and programs do take the right path to success.