Judge Gary Cook of Lucas County Common Pleas Court denied a request Friday for a temporary restraining order that would have allowed Maumee Valley Country Day School junior Nathan Smith to continue participating on the Hawks’ boys soccer team beyond the season’s midway point after his transfer from St. John’s Jesuit.
The request was made in a lawsuit filed by Jeffrey Smith, Nathan’s father, against the Ohio High School Athletic Association and its executive director, Jerry Snodgrass. A hearing, with testimony made on both sides, was held Tuesday.
The Smiths had contended the OHSAA’s transfer bylaws should not have applied to Nathan’s situation because his transfer had been made for “purely academic reasons,” but the body’s transfer rules have been established to prevent recruiting for athletics.
In his ruling Judge Cook wrote Nathan is an “exceptional student” who would benefit from full participation in his two sports, soccer and swimming.
“However, no matter how laudable Nathan’s decision to transfer to Maumee Valley for the sole purpose of improving his academic opportunities and pursuits, the fact remains that a transfer for ‘purely academic reasons’ is not an enumerated exception to the OHSAA's transfer penalty under bylaw 4-7-2,” Judge Cook wrote.
Athletes who transfer between schools and do not meet an exception to the bylaw are banned from competing in the second half of each season as well as postseason play. The OHSAA had argued in part allowing an exception to its transfer rules could have set precedent for further legal challenges.
Nathan will not be allowed to compete in the second half of the soccer season or the second half of the swimming season this winter. But he will be allowed full participation in the two sports in his senior year in 2019-20.
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