By Joe Henricksen

I'm just saying ...

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You do wonder if the transfer talk and the epidemic it is in Illinois (can we call it an epidemic?) is as prevalent in other states around the country as it is here. But when school closes in late May and early June, especially around the Chicago area, the rumors you hear in the spring often gain legs in the summer months.

Sure, the IHSA has supposedly put some bite into its transfer rules this year. If a student-athlete wishes to transfer out of a private school they must show proof of a change of address, or probable cause for the move. The new rule requires: "(a) A change in the family's financial position or (b) extenuating circumstances documented by the sending school" if there is no change of residency.

Forget the argument over whose right it is to say what is and what isn't financial hardship for a family. Well, I can't just yet.

I digress ...

First, a $5,000 cut in earnings is way different for every family. And, if a family decides that, "Hey, forget the $12,000 I'm spending on a private high school education for these last two years; we want to start putting that money away for college and save $24,000 for junior's college tuition." Isn't that their right? Yes, but the student-athlete will suffer. And the kid, who might live across the street from the public high school within the district which his parents pay $8,458 a year in property taxes, won't be eligible?

Some want all transfers ineligible. Period. There are so many different transfer scenarios that it does put the IHSA in a bind. I understand. It's a tricky situation when dealing with transfers and athletics with no easy solution, really. The Hoops Report dived into how difficult it is to stop transfers in a column last year (read here). But that's not even the reason or purpose for this story.

The question is this: Is there a double-standard when it comes to basketball transfers when comparing the movement of boys and girls? At least in perception and attention? Why do we hear so little about the girls' game when it comes to transfers? There probably aren't as many, but where is the controversy that follows when there are?

It recently went public, or official, that Faith Suggs, a standout girls basketball player and Division I prospect from Plainfield East, is transferring to Homewood-Flossmoor. The new coach at H-F, Anthony Smith, is the highest profile coach in Illinois girls basketball after compiling a 326-36 record with four state titles in 12 seasons at Bolingbrook. He even coached Suggs in AAU basketball.

In a recent story in the Chicago-Tribune talking about the transfer, it reads: "Several more players are expected to transfer to Homewood-Flossmoor, though Smith didn't name names."

Huh? A highly-touted prospect transfers to a school where the biggest name in high school girls basketball is coaching and who coached this particular athlete in AAU? (Remember, no transfers allowed for athletic purposes -- wink, wink). And more transfers are expected?

First, there is no insinuation here that H-F did anything wrong. But the fact there is no uproar, drama or an eye-brow raised? There are no articles questioning the move, the ethics or reasons. That's just different when it comes to transfers in basketball -- or in this case girls vs. boys basketball. If this were boys basketball and a player transferred to Simeon? Or Whitney Young?

Hmmmmm ...

The IHSA would have floodlights on Rob Smith's house right now. You might see the IHSA cronies in dark suits and sunglasses (no, there isn't such a thing) lurking behind fences and trees on Vincennes Ave. and 83rd Street. There would likely be rulings and appeals and headlines and investigations and maybe even lawyers.

All you have to do is look back less than a year ago when Donte Ingram made the move from Danville to Simeon. First, Danville did not concur with the transfer, so that automatically sets off red flags and spurs an investigation and background checks.

Although the investigation revealed that there was no evidence of any recruitment by anyone connected with Simeon, by Jan. 15 the IHSA ruled Ingram ineligible anyway, along with transfers Jaycee Hillsman (from Champaign) and Sean Moore (from Leo). Residency issues was the reason.

By early February the IHSA ruled Ingram eligible, that his father, Donald Ingram, had indeed established residency. In this situation, there was a big brouhaha followed by the end result: Ingram was eligible to play.

The reality is it could be apples and oranges when comparing this transfer to, well, pick any boys basketball transfer of your choice. Rarely (if ever?) do we see much made of transfers in girls basketball, whether it be low or high-profile players. Maybe Plainfield East signed off on the Suggs move. Maybe there simply wasn't anything Plainfield East could do about it. The family did move into the H-F school district. So everything is good to go, right?

Again, apples and oranges? Who knows? But I just don't think it would be that simple on the boys side under similar or exact circumstances.

I'm just saying ...

Follow Joe Henricksen and the Hoops Report on Twitter @joehoopsreport

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7 Comments

First of all no way IHSA can monitor all these transfers or investigate the way they should. But it is the sad truth. There is way more attention on boys basketball transfers than any other sport including football. Maybe it is more unethical in boys basketball with way things are done but I hardly believe the transfers in other sports are clearly on the up and up.

Joe - you wrote in this blog my exact family predicament. We don't have what you would call a financial hardship. But you know what? We have different financial obligations than we had before. And we also decided as a family that just like you mentioned we want to focus more on putting money away for college. The education at our private school while good, is not exactly what we expected when we enrolled two years ago. Yes we can move our son out, but he's a two-sport athlete, a varsity starter in both. And we would certainly raise a red flag in our very own community by the move and under these rules no chance of really being eligible. Lose a year of high school competition. Frustratred. Thanks for the piece.

The Bolingbrook program was built on transfers. Same coach, different school, same behaviors. The IHSA needs to at least take a look.

If the school signs off on the transfer, pretty much nothing you can do about it. Maybe the rules will change that, we'll see. I know of one transfer that hasn't been reported yet (it will soon, I'm sure) where the school the player is transferring from signed off on it. They like the kid, and weren't going to make him stay where he didn't want to be. Bottom line: If parents/guardians want to take kids into a new school, they will find a way to get it done. Rule changes will make it more difficult, and that's probably a good thing.

What went on at Bolingbrook would never be tolerated if it happened in boys basketball. So to your point, yes its a double standard for sure. But it is becoming more prevalent in girls basketball. And read past articles about the coach. He laughs and talks about transfers at HF.

No question its looked at more closely when its a city power. Maybe they have brought it on themselves but stuff goes on in central Illinois that is ignored. But you better believe there is more interest in city transfers.

Joe, agreed! Tony Smith kept his teams filled with transfers and he did it every year they were winning like that. One year Bolingbrook had 10 division 1 signees in one senior class! How else can you accomplish that without cheating??

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This page contains a single entry by Joe Henricksen published on August 14, 2013 8:58 PM.

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