IHSAA rules limit student athlete participation

Andrew Haggerty, Reporter

By rule, the  Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) prohibits student-athletes from participating in competitions outside school-sponsored events.

Rule 15 of the 2018-2019 IHSAA’s bylaws states, “Participation by a student in any organized non-school sports competition during the authorized contest season, or at any time prior to the conclusion of the student’s participation in the IHSAA Tournament Series, in that sport shall cause such students to become ineligible for their School team in that sport… unless an outstanding student-athlete waiver for said competition is approved by the coach, principal and the IHSAA office and is on file in the principal’s office.”

This means that any recreational races and tournaments aren’t options for school athletes during the season.

 Junior Blake Deaton has been directly affected by this rule, as he made the decision to leave his club team this year to join the school tennis team. He believes doing well on a school team would look better on a college application.

 “It’s something I kind of had to do,“ Deaton says.

Due to these rules, athletes are forced to drop club teams, and can’t commit to any private lessons that are during a school practice or competition. This includes programs like AAU basketball, travel teams in baseball or soccer, and even club teams in wrestling.

“There are tournaments I wish I could send a small group of wrestlers to, but aren’t viable because of IHSAA restrictions” wrestling head coach Matt Schoettle says.

On an individual level, to go to a non-school sponsored tournament, athletes must obtain  a waiver from the IHSAA, which is rarely permitted. Just two waivers per season are allowed.

Overall, this rule limits athletes to exclusively school-sponsored events and causes difficult decisions for athletes and coaches alike.