EDISON, NJ – In a groundbreaking move, New Jersey high school athletic directors and principals voted to implement two new policies designed to separate public and non-public schools in two sports at the state’s annual NJSIAA membership meeting on Monday at the Pines Manor.

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.

The vote to separate football into public and private leagues was approved by a 215-128 count with two abstentions; separating wrestling passed, 216-121 with eight abstentions, and the transfer rule was voted down 244-99 with one abstention.
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Beginning in 2016-17 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.

Summit High School Director of Athletics Robert Lockhart voted for the split, saying, "I believe the non-public schools have an competitive advantage based on where they can draw their student athletes from. Public schools have a restricted geographical area while the non-public schools have no boundaries."

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.”

According to the committee, had the proposal passed, it would have prevented a large number of students transferring from public to private schools.

Lockhart voted in favor of the transfer proposal.

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.
Lockhart also voted for the date change, stating that it has worked well for basketball over the last couple of years, where coaches get their try-outs completed prior to Thanksgiving and, in turn, are set to prepare for the season when practice resumes the following Monday.