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No, SB 145 does not entirely allow students to transfer without sitting out a year of athletics

The rule has always been, if a student transfers from one school to another, they must sit out a year of athletics.  This was a rule created and imposed by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association under the previous Bylaw 6, Section 1: 

a) Any student who has been enrolled in grades nine (9) through twelve (12) and has participated in any varsity contest in any sport at any school while maintaining permanent residence in the United States or a United States territory following enrollment in grade nine (9) and who then transfers schools shall be ineligible for interscholastic athletics at any level in any sport for one year from the date of enrollment in the new school. 

However, the next part allows the KHSAA to grant a waiver for students for a list of reasons.  

b) The Ruling Officer and Commissioner have discretion (but are not required) to waive the period of ineligibility set forth above if one or more of the following exceptions in Section 2 has been met. Determinations of whether a student shall be granted a waiver pursuant to this rule shall be based on the circumstances existing as of the date of enrollment at the new school. 

Some of these exceptions included: divorce, change of custody, death of a parent, change in school district boundaries, and cessation of a program.  The most common reason a waiver is given is for a bona fide, or “good faith” change of residence, where the student athlete genuinely moved to a permanent residence to a new school district.

Section 3 of Bylaw explicitly prohibits student athletes from transferring for athletic reasons by saying they will be ruled ineligible:

c) If the change in schools is motivated in whole or part by a desire to participate in athletics at the new school; d) If the satisfying of one of the exceptions is used or manipulated for the purpose of gaining athletic eligibility

Then, in 2021, the Kentucky General Assembly passed House Bill 563.  This bill allowed for school choice, requiring local school boards to adopt policies allowing for nonresident student enrollment.  

See KDE Guidance

Kentucky school districts are mostly funded by way of student enrollment called SEEK funding.  The base SEEK amount is $4,200 per student.  What HB 563 did was allow that money to follow the student to the school district they attended, even if they were not a resident.  Previously, it did not.

Also included in that bill was the following language under KRS 156.070:

Any student who transfers enrollment from a district of residence to a nonresident district under KRS 157.350(4)(b) shall be ineligible to participate in interscholastic athletics for one (1) calendar year from the date of the transfer.

This bill superseded the KHSAA’s ability under Bylaw 6 to grant exceptions.  Under HB 563, the only way to be eligible for athletics without sitting out a year is to move to the school district boundaries in which the student attends school. Under HB 563, though, KHSAA’s Bylaw 6 still applied. Meaning a student who moved to a new school district would still need to be ruled eligible by the KHSAA.

See KHSAA Guidance

What Senate Bill 145 introduced this legislative session does is remove that language entirely.  As clarified by the Kentucky Senate Majority on Twitter, this would return governance to the KHSAA.

What this bill does NOT do, is allow all students to transfer without sitting out a year of athletics.

The bill passed the Senate unanimously. It still needs to go through the house and get signed by the Governor before it is made law.

The bill is being sponsored by Senator Shelley Funke Frommeyer, who represents Campbell, Pendleton, Bracken, and part of Kenton Counties.

Senator Fromeyer responded to our email, saying, “This bill removes from statute and reverts to existing regulation any reference to sitting out from interscholastic sports. The situation of transfer for athletic advantage by those high schoolers who have already played varsity athletics, is already in regulation and managed by KHSAA. The unintended consequences for middle school students will be removed once SB145 is approved by the House and signed by the Governor.”

You can track the bill here:

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