Nationwide High School Student-Athlete Advocate

Is Your Student-Athlete at Risk of Being Declared Ineligible to Play? Get Help Now!

The rules and regulations surrounding high school sports have become more and more complicated in recent years as the stakes of moving on to the next stage – collegiate-level scholarship sports – have increased. As a result of perceived abuses of the high school sports system, many states have vastly expanded the scope of their rules regarding student eligibility as well as regarding what schools are and are not allowed to do when it comes to attracting and working with students involved in sports.

These rules are complicated and often difficult for those not familiar with the system to interpret. This is why if you are facing any issues related to your student's eligibility to compete in high school athletics, you need the help of Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Team. Joseph D. Lento has years of experience representing high school students all over the country who find themselves with questions about staying eligible to play or, worse, who are in jeopardy of losing their eligibility for various reasons, sometimes through no fault of their own.

Typical Eligibility Issues that Student-Athletes Face

The areas that student-athletes need to pay attention to in particular relate to enrollment eligibility; academic eligibility; and disciplinary process eligibility. Joseph D. Lento regularly advises students and their families in each of these areas and has the depth of experience to help you and your student avoid eligibility issues before they arise, and to fight on your student-athlete's behalf if they do occur.

Enrollment Eligibility Issues Can Cost Student-Athletes a Year or More of Competition

Many states have developed complicated rules relating to whether, when, and how a student who wants to attend a particular high school may become eligible to compete on that school's sports teams. Parents can no longer assume that the high school closest to their home is necessarily one where their student-athlete will be allowed to attend and compete. The boundaries of local school districts don't always follow logic, so it's important to understand at the beginning which high school or high schools your student-athlete is eligible to enroll in as a student and to double-check that if they do enroll that they will be eligible to participate in that school's sports program.

Transferring high schools is a much more perilous task. Students in the past have moved from one high school to another in the hopes of becoming part of a stronger team or working with a particular coach. State athletic associations often frown on this because, in their view, it makes the athletic high school experience appear to be more important than the academic experience. As a result, many states have strict guidelines that can seriously hamper a transferring student's ability to compete in their new school's sports programs. Transferring student-athletes can easily lose months or even full years of eligibility depending on the reasons behind their transfer.

This is an area where advanced planning can make all the difference. If your student-athlete is considering transferring schools, or if you are moving to a new home and are considering moving your enrolled student-athlete from one high school to another, Joseph D. Lento can help you understand the effect this could have on your student-athlete's eligibility at the new school. He and his Team at the Lento Law Firm can also advise you on how to minimize or even eliminate eligibility penalties that may be imposed because of the transfer. By making Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Team part of your team early on, you can make a huge difference in your student-athlete's ability to compete at their new school.

Academic Eligibility Issues Can Hurt Student-Athletes Each Semester

Once enrolled and eligible to compete, it's of course important for student-athletes to remain eligible. State high school athletic associations have developed comprehensive academic eligibility requirements in an effort to make sure that student-athletes are receiving a proper education in addition to participating in their school's sports programs. These requirements typically focus on two main areas: the number of credits or courses taken during a semester, and the student's grade point average in each of those courses or overall during the semester.

The credit-hour or course number requirement is designed to make sure that student-athletes are proceeding at a given pace towards graduating from high school in the usual four-year time period. There may be an added general requirement that the student is making progress towards graduation, which means that student-athletes can't just be enrolled in any courses, but must make sure that they take the ones required so that they will meet the school's or state's graduation requirements.

The grade point average requirement is of course designed to make sure that the student-athlete is actually learning what those courses are teaching. Depending on the regulations, eligibility may be at risk if the student does poorly in only one course, even if they get straight-A's in all of their other classes.

This is an area where the regulations often provide schools with considerable leeway to allow the student-athlete to make up failed courses or credits over the summer, to allow them to compete on a probationary basis while working to raise their grade point averages over the next semester, or to take into account personal hardships that the student-athlete has suffered, such as extended illness or the death of a close family member.

But these exceptions don't happen automatically. Parents often need to know they exist and request them before the school will even consider them. Knowing what your rights are as well as what the school is allowed to do under your state's academic eligibility regulations can make the difference between your student-athlete being benched for an entire semester or being allowed to compete while working to improve their grades. Student-athlete attorney-advocate Joseph D. Lento regularly advises families about high school academic eligibility issues and can help you understand your options and present your case to your student-athlete's school or athletic association in as convincing a way as possible.

Disciplinary Issues Can End Your Student-Athlete's Career

Kids don't always make the best decisions; we've all been there and know that. Pranks can get out of hand, tempers can boil over, rivalries can escalate, and the results can stop a promising high school athletic career in its tracks, dooming any future prospects at the college level.

Cheating Allegations

Academic dishonesty, for example, can directly affect a student athlete's grade in any given class. If a teacher or the school accuses your student-athlete of cheating on an exam, plagiarizing in a report or essay, or any other form of academic dishonesty, the student may receive a failing grade for the test, assignment, or course that could affect their eligibility under the state's grade point average or the number of credit-hours requirements for student-athletes. In addition, state or school rules may impose eligibility penalties on student-athletes where the school finds that the student engaged in some form of academic cheating.

School Conduct Code Violations

Other types of school discipline may also have an impact on a student-athlete's ability to play high school sports, even if the punished behavior has nothing to do with any sporting activity. For example, a student-athlete accused of consuming alcohol or drugs on school property or at a school event may face disciplinary proceedings at the high school that can, in addition to the punishment that the school would impose on a student who doesn't compete in athletics, result in suspension or worse from the school's athletics programs.

This is why even if your state's high school athletics regulations don't cover all in-school discipline situations, you need to pay close attention if your student-athlete is accused of violating their high school's code of conduct requirements. The implications of a ruling against your student-athlete may go much further than purely academic penalties. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Team have been advising and representing high school students all over the country accused of school conduct code violations, and can help you and your student-athlete if you find yourselves facing these kinds of problems. It's not unusual for an investigation to reveal that the accusations have no merit; and in