Board reverses field on new rules

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By Thomas Barr

 SHEPHERDSVILLE - If approved next Tuesday, Bullitt County high school athletics could have a few more rules to follow in terms of team participation.

The Bullitt County Public School Board will present the proposed policy, which has been tweaked after a meeting Monday between school officials and athletic directors, for consideration at the Dec. 13 meeting.

“There is an issue of fairness we need to address,” said superintendent Keith Davis.

The focal point of the policy will be participation of middle school students at the high school level in areas where there are already sanctioned teams - basketball, track and archery.

Over the years, Davis said there have been some complaints about ninth-graders who are cut from the high school team due to middle school students taking roster spots.

“We need to make sure our kids have a chance to participate,” Davis said of the proposed policy. “Middle school athletes have middle school teams to play on.”

In talking with the athletic directors, Davis said there were several points and concerns raised. 

For example, the proposed policy looked to limit the number of volunteer coaches. Currently, the board has a policy that limits that number to 20 per year.

However, Davis said the issues of fairness again were raised in this area. Some were concerned that some schools had too many volunteer coaches while others were concerned that student-athletes might get some favoritism if their parent was a coach.

Instead of tackling that issue, Davis said the athletic directors asked if the matter be tabled until a later time.

In terms of middle school eligibility, Davis said the new proposal would not deal with track since team size is unlimited. He said middle school track meets should take priority if there is a conflict with a high school meet.

Davis said he did not realize that middle schoolers have won state track titles while part of a high school team.

In terms of basketball, the boys’ middle school season would possibly be moved back to November through January to align with other schools in the region.

Eighth graders wishing to play for the high school team would have an opportunity to try out after the middle school season concluded. Davis said that would give the ninth graders a better opportunity to make the team and play.

For the girls, the issue is not as difficult since the middle school season ends before the high school schedule begins. They would be allowed to participate.

A major difference will be that any middle school student who is asked to play on a high school team must get the approval of the coach and a list of reasons why should make the roster and not a ninth grader.

“We’re not wanting to hold back any talented athletes,” said Davis. “But we are here to provide ways for students to be involved on their school and to develop leadership and teamwork skills among our students.”

Davis said the policy will make sure that freshmen are given the priority but exemptions are allowed. However, now the coach and athletic director must have reasons on why that person should play.

“I know it might make some people mad but we’re here for the students and not just for the sake of winning,” said Davis.