EDISON, NJ – In a groundbreaking move, New Jersey high school athletic directors and principals voted to implement new policy changes across high school athletics at the state’s annual membership meeting on Monday at the Pines Manor in Edison.
According to the NJSIAA, of the five proposals facing a public vote, member schools voted to pass four new mandates involving Fall and winter start dates, football and wrestling, while failing to pass a new student transfer policy.
Says East Brunswick Athletic Director Christopher Yanazzo, "The new ruling allows districts to choose an earlier start time, which EBHS has been piloting already for a couple of years. It is still any district's choice to select the start time." Yanazzo noted that the EBHS sports program is "not affected in a huge way" by yesterday's vote, adding that "the new rules still have to be voted on" before implementation in the 2016-2017 season.
During the vote, NJSIAA membership voted to pass two new policies designed to separate public and non-public schools in two sports.
Beginning in the 2016-2017 seasons, public and non-public football schools will split into their own respective conferences, with a state-wide, non-public conference being created. Additionally, the NJSIAA will create non-public wrestling district and regional tournaments.
Membership schools also voted against amending the state’s transfer policy. The change being intended to curtail what some officials across the state view as a transfer epidemic.
The transfer proposal, brought in front of NJSIAA membership by the Public-Nonpublic Committee, would have mandated all varsity athletes transferring to a new school to sit out for 30 days and receive a post-season ban. The only exception would be for a “valid change in residence” from one “public school to another.”
"The East Brunswick academic program is so strong that we really don't have a problem with students transferring. However, it's the athlete's choice, and we will abide by the rules," said Yanazzo.
According to the committee, had the proposal passed, it would have prevented a large number of students transferring from public to private schools.
Additionally, two minor changes related to season opening dates were also passed. Beginning in 2016, football practices will begin on August 10, with all other sports beginning on August 15. These dates move up to August 9 and August 14 in 2017.
A vote also passed allowing Winter sports to utilize “Pre-Thanksgiving” tryouts.
*Tim LeCras, TAP into Sports Editor, contributed to this article.