Sports transfers in California rise during 2019-20 school year despite coronavirus

Sierra Canyon's Ziaire Williams celebrates in the CIF Open Division regional final March 10.
Sierra Canyon’s Ziaire Williams, who transferred from Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, celebrates after making the game-winning basket against Etiwanda in the CIF Open Division regional final March 10.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Despite school closures in March that produced almost a complete stop to sports transfers during the COVID-19 pandemic, 16,025 high school transfers were reported statewide for the 2019-20 school year, according to data released Monday by the California Interscholastic Federation.

That’s a slight increase from the 15,968 transfers in 2018-19, according to the CIF. The all-time high was 16,839 in 2017-18.

The Southern Section, the largest in the state, reported 6,523 transfers, down from 6,630 last school year. Southern Section spokesman Thom Simmons said there was a spike in December, going from 369 the previous December to 509. Valid residence changes went down from 2,071 last year to 1,163 this year after stronger documentation requirements of parents were implemented.


As for the upcoming school year, transfer numbers could rise significantly. A waiver of transfer rules will be allowed for families switching schools for financial reasons and the possibility of high school sports not starting until January could add to the movement.

“It’s hard to judge,” CIF Executive Director Ron Nocetti said. “There’s so many unknowns moving forward. We’ve put in some waivers to allow transfers for financial reasons. That could cause an uptick in transfers.”

The recent surge in COVID-19 infections could force the CIF to announce July 20 a delay in the high school sports season.

July 13, 2020

One reason monitoring transfers is important is that teams playing at the highest level no longer seem to have rebuilding years. Their graduating seniors are replaced by one or two top transfer students. Sierra Canyon has won the last two state championships in basketball with multiple transfer students in the starting lineup.