Law Office of Michelle Ball Sports/CIF Improved, But Still Confusing CIF High School Sports Transfer Rules

Improved, But Still Confusing CIF High School Sports Transfer Rules

CIF sports transfers

Last Updated on January 19, 2024 by Michelle Ball

By Michelle Ball, Sacramento California Expulsion, Special Education, sports/CIF, College, Education and School Attorney/Lawyer for Students since 1995

A few years back, the California Interscholastic Federation, aka CIF, the governing body for high school sports in California, softened their interdistrict transfer rules for the better.  It is still confusing for student athletes, but students have benefited from this change.

CIF no valid change of residence impacts high school sports
Moving schools without moving homes with your family means sports eligibility issues in high school

Sit Out Period Allowed When Student Transfers Without Moving

Previously, there was a single transfer allowed without a “valid change of residence.” A “valid change of residence” is essentially moving house to house with the entire family, abandoning the former residence, and taking all belongings.  

Under the amended CIF Rule 207, a high school student may transfer schools without moving, and may be able to compete at a new school after a “sit out period” (SOP). This can be during any year of high school, so long as this is the student’s first transfer without a “valid change of residence.”  

Example of Moving Without “Valid Change of Residence”

How this works is, say student A played junior varsity or varsity football at School X.  The student thereafter transfers to School Y during the summer, and practices with the new football team. The student lives in the same residence as when the student attended School X. This is a school move without a “valid change of residence.”  

So long as this is the student’s first such transfer, this football star can practice with the new team and may be able to play after a sit out period.  

Students Cannot Play Same Sport at Different Schools Same Schoolyear

If the same student moves to School Y after he played in the first football game that schoolyear at School X, the student won’t be able to compete at School Y, even with a sit out period.

Sports restrictions are imposed on high school students by CIF
High school sports are impacted by CIF, which controls play restrictions

Sit Out Period Does Not Apply With Discipline Transfer

If a transfer may qualify for a sit out period on paper, but it turns out the transfer was based on student discipline, a student may not play sports at the new school for one year. This means that if a high school student moved due to an expulsion agreement or suspension, they will be prohibited from competing at School Y.

Other CIF restrictions may also apply, including for pre-enrollment contact.  

How To Avoid the Sit Out Period?

To avoid a sit out period, a student can either move his entire family and abandon the former residence as described in CIF rules. Or, the student can seek a hardship waiver, which covers only a very narrow group of students.

The Good News?

Although sit out periods stink, at least some students can now play at a new school, whereas before, they could not. For more information, see the CIF website here.  Go team!

Michelle Ball, student sports and CIF attorney can help students throughout California. As a Sacramento education lawyer for students, she assists in many locations, including San Diego, Folsom, Redding, Santa Rosa, San Francisco, Elk Grove, Roseville and Los Angeles.