WIAA allows controversial transfer in Marysville

I have received a lot of anonymous information this week from people upset about two basketball stars from Marysville Getchell transferring to Marysville-Pilchuck. I can’t repeat what some said as this is a family newspaper.

The problem is all of the information is anonymous. This isn’t Washington, D.C., where the media writes stories based on that kind of information. This is Marysville where people expect information to be verified with facts, rather than opinion.

However, that does not prohibit me from sharing my opinion in this column. And my opinion is mixed on the topic.

Since the Marysville School District still allows students to pick which high school they go to, and it emphasizes what is best for the kids, from that prespective the transfer looks fine. It’s hard in the eighth grade to choose which school to go to. Yet, you have to decide. I can’t blame kids for changing their minds after a few years.

From the boys point of view, I can see why they would want to switch schools. M-P went to the 3A basketball playoffs last year and has two of its stars back. With the addition of the two from MG, the Tomahawks could go a long way this season.

The other point of view is not as simple

The MG community feels abandoned. They have a great coach and a fine team. They must be feeling the two players were disloyal to them.

Rumors that the pair were recruited away are just that – rumors. There is no proof of that.

When this type of thing happens, there are often then comparisons of situations in previous years when a similar transfer was not allowed. Of course that would be wrong, and the district should be held accountable for doing something different this time.

However, district athletic director Greg Erickson explained in an email the difference. This isn’t just a student going to one school then deciding to go to another for whatever reason. In the past, boys and girls who have wanted to do that have had to sit out a year of eligibility, per WIAA rules.

What makes this situation different, and some might call it a loophole in the WIAA rules, is that the families of the two boys physically moved to different houses – reportedly exchanging homes.

Erickson said he communicated often last spring and this fall with the WIAA to verify his interpretation of their transfer rule. And the WIAA agreed with him.Erickson said he wanted to make sure because he knew this situation would be “fairly high profile” in Marysville.

“Bottom line, if the entire family unit moves to a new residence (living there 24/7) within the school district and has severed all ties with the previous residence, they are eligible” to play, he writes.

Erickson goes on to say the district requires a WIAA eligibility Form 6 and residential contract from all families that move into the district while students are in high school. “Should they not live up to the residential contract they have signed the athletes would be declared ineligible for one calendar year,” his email concludes.

When MG was first born, it did not have athletics. Sports have been added since then, but they lack some of the facilities of the larger M-P. That upsets MG supporters, who feel they are always on the short end of the stick. Unfortunately this latest incident only adds fuel to the fire.

While it may not seem right at many levels, the transfer has been allowed by the district and the WIAA. I can understand MG’s feelings that it is unfair. But as a community we need to try to move on. A divided community is not a healthy community.

Steve Powell is the managing editor of The Marysville Globe and The Arlington Times. His Backseat Coach column runs as the need arises.

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