The complaints from irate parents, coaches and interested parties continue to land on the desk of City League commissioner Ed Scrutchins like clockwork.
Only this year the messages became more urgent. And
patience was no longer a
Too many students are illegally transferring, or moving, from one high school to another.
Scrutchins heard the rumors along with everyone else. How kids supposedly residing at one address were actually living at another location so they could play sports at a preferred school.
"You hear so much about these things, but this time it was about a girl who someone felt was being recruited," said Scrutchins, who pointed out that the specific complaint focused on whether the student actually lived at the address presented to the school in question.
Under Toledo Public School guidelines, any student who transfers without moving to an address within that district is not permitted to participate in sports for one school year.
Scrutchins' primary concern is that too many students abuse the policy when they change schools and don't reside at their official address.
In an attempt to curb the problem, Scrutchins is demanding that CL athletic directors monitor the transfer/moving process from start to finish, including physically going out and actually visiting a student's residence.
"We've heard so much about it, we're putting the word out so we can stop people [from changing schools]," Scrutchins said.
"We're telling our athletic directors that even though they're in your school, they're not going to be eligible until we verify their address."
Previously, once a student submitted all the official paperwork to the new school they were automatically eligible.
"There's no way we can depend on a secretary to verify if a kid is eligible to go to school," Scrutchins said. "If the athletic director doesn't want to verify the address, the kid won't be eligible. And we expect the athletic director to make a certain number of visits. Not just one visit."
There are punitive penalties that could affect the entire team, Scrutchins said.
Penalities could include forfeitures of games for using an ineligible player who doesn't reside at the official address.
When asked why now, after all these years, Scrutchins said timing played a big factor in his decision.
He pointed to the stream of complaints alleging illegal transfers, and how the Libbey boys basketball team lost play-ers to other schools.
"I don't think this year was worse than past years. There's been years where there were more," Scrutchins said. "But there were a number of situations affecting one school this year."
Scrutchins insists this isn't a token, symbolic gesture, although it may appear that way to some.
"People still may try it, because a lot of people place an emphasis on athletics more than they should," he said. "But they have to be aware there are now checks and balances in place."
Scrutchins looked the other way for as long as he could, hoping the problem would dissolve on its own.
"People may say that we're blowing smoke," Scrutchins said, "but the past is the past."
Give Scrutchins credit for taking a logical, systematic approach to finding a solution for a deep-rooted program.