Although State CIF laws prohibit high schools recruiting students, the passage of two California Assembly bills will create something akin to high school free agency.
By July, 1994, students statewide will be able to transfer without changing residences.
Assembly Bill 1114 requires public school districts to develop open enrollment policies by July. AB 19 permits local school boards to determine how many outside students they will accept, if any, and stipulates that transfers must be chosen at random.
Gov. Pete Wilson and AB 1114's author, Charles W. Quackenbush (R-San Jose), expect a new trend in California schools: specialization. Schools will encourage development in certain subjects such as math and science, fine arts and vocational education.
But such laws will also allow athletes to move from a school with, say, a poor basketball program to one with a good one under the guise of education.
Students will no longer be required to go to their neighborhood school and could instead go across town with ease. With a little more work, and little explanation, they could attend a school in another district.
A second-string point guard at Los Alamitos, for example, could attend Edison, where he might have a chance to start. That's a plausible scenario. That's free agency.
After the 1990 basketball season, my daughter, Joan, who was the MVP of Marina's 19-1, Sunset League champion junior varsity team, was a candidate to make the summer league varsity team. After the selection process, Joan told me she didn't make the team. Being very much involved with her sports activities, I talked to the Marina coaching staff.
They had nine returning seniors and five more carry-overs--three juniors and two sophomores--for a total of 14 players, and Joan wouldn't be included. Their reasoning--and there was wisdom in their decision--was they felt Joan's place was with the JV team based on the fact they had nine seniors and at least seven of the 14 players were guards, and Joan played guard. But when I asked about talent. . . . Obviously I believe, though they did not really say it, that they had a commitment to play seniors. And there's wisdom in continuity. They were the best team in the Sunset League, and I respected that.
My concern was the fact that talent wasn't an issue. So what happens to my kid? Are we willing to just say, "Hey, we've got to follow their rules?"
Joan was having a problem understanding why she hadn't made varsity. Her attitude changed. It was obvious the coaches' decision had affected her.
So I made a decision. I scouted around and looked at a lot of teams: Mater Dei, Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley, then Edison. I watched quite a few games of Debbie Fisher and could see a lot of Joan in her, because Joan has a good outside shot. Based on all those things, I alone chose Edison. Their running game and their guard-oriented offense would definitely develop Joan's game.
From there, it was all her job to prove that I was right. And based on the highlights of her record-filled career, she got the job done.
There were rumors she was recruited; there's no truth in them.
Getting the transfer was tough. We knew we would have to move the family because of eligibility requirements. What's frustrating is that we had to move, when we really didn't have to move. What we all gained is that she was happy with her career.
I believe this is what the issue is all about. There should be a real valid reason for transferring schools, not just, "I hate the coach," or whatever. At Marina, Joan was on the wrong team at the wrong time. Simple as that.