Coaches and School Administration take exception to claims of ‘transfer epidemic’

Braden Olsen scores as Loins win 91-90 over Jesuit.

Braden Olsen scores as Loins win 91-90 over Jesuit.

Within West Linn city limits lies a high school whose accomplishments don’t stop at academic excellence, artistic expression, and athletic achievement. With controversy spreading statewide, Oregonian journalist John Canzano wrote a piece on on the so called “transfer epidemic” that resides within the basketball program.

Similarly Canzano hosts a show on “750 The Game” where he spoke concerning this controversial topic.
Reading comments and listening to conversation from fans who are concerned about possible violations, there seems to be much confusion and falsehoods being shared on a variety of media platforms.
This includes, and is not limited to, social media sites, anonymous self-proclaimed experts posting in comments sections, and high school ‘analysts’ claiming they ‘know information’, but have been told to ‘zip it.’

Speculation has circled claiming lottery fraud. Critics suggest administrators favored athletes over others attempting to transfer via one of the five available lottery spots.
According to Basketball Head Coach Tyler Toney, none of the current players entered via the lottery. They entered by moving into the district. The only exception is a freshman who is able to live out of district and attend by paying tuition.

“All the other players,” Toney said, “have physically uprooted their families and moved into the district.”
Conzano claims that West Linn has “dumped core values, and is drunk with winning,” while “selling out to club basketball.”

In the comment section of Conzano’s column, Toney was accused of recruiting at a club program, ML20, after losing 8 seniors off last year’s state championship winning team.
One misconception is that the seniors played on the same AAU team this past year. Toney clarifies that this is false.

“Out of the 4 seniors, none played AAU this summer on the same team. We had players participate on Makeo, Team Fly, Fast, and NW Panthers.”

Recruiting in high school athletics has become a hot topic over past few months; and accusations without sources or information to back them up have been directed towards not only the West Linn coaching staff, but the athletic department as a whole.

“I don’t get to choose who comes out for the team or not,” Toney said. “My job is to work with each student-athlete that comes out for our program and treat each kid the same way.”
Critics claim the athletic administration hasn’t held each family accountable.

“Our school’s Athletic Director, Mark Horak, has carried out house checks,” Toney said. “He literally has driven to the kids’ homes to make sure they were living at the locations they’ve in fact moved to.”
Coaches and Administration are not naive in thinking that basketball did not play a reason in each athlete’s decision to transfer. Student’s come for many different reasons including the award winning band, choir, drama, and academics.

All OSAA Sanctioned Activities are governed by a set of rules, Section 8.6, and House Bill 3681, also known as Open Enrollment. The OSAA Fundamental Rule states

“It is a Fundamental Rule of the Association that a student must attend the high school in the high school attendance boundary within which the Joint Residence of the student and the student’s parents is located. Exceptions to this Fundamental Rule are to be narrowly construed.”

In layman terms, you play where you live, with some exceptions. How many exceptions? There are nine pages listed on the OSAA website.

In relation to eligibility, if a student transfers schools before entering high school they are immediately eligible to participate in OSAA sanctioned events as a freshman, including sports.
If they transfer between high schools as a freshman or higher, they must fill out an OSAA eligible student transfer certificate. The certificate must be signed by school administrators. If the application is denied, they can be appealed to the OSAA Board. If the application is still denied, the student must sit out a year after they transfer before they participate.

Some argue that there is a moral dilemma associated with student-athletes and their decisions to transfer.

There is also frustration on the part of students and their families who have perhaps lost an opportunity to play varsity basketball.

There is frustration from parents of former players who feel as if the culture they created is being “ripped at the seams,” as Canzano put it.

At the same time, critics of Canzano’s article question if it is fair for reporters to single out players and others in the community for seeking out opportunities to better themselves by transferring.

For more information on eligibility and processes for transfers, section 8 of the OSAA Handbook covers all such issues in detail and is available online.

OSAA has not said that there is any evidence of wrongdoing by West Linn High School basketball players, their families, or the West Linn athletic department.


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