Kentucky lawmakers are reviewing a proposal to add middle schools athletics to the Kentucky High School Athletic Association's oversight. It would mark the first time Kentucky middle schools fell under state regulation.
KHSAA commissioner Julien Tackett said currently there are no restrictions on the number of games played each season and no academic requirements for players and that distracts from student’s academics.
“The most important thing you do in middle school is you go to school," said Tackett. "The most important thing you do in high school is you go to school. The sports are extra, and in some areas with the lack of regulation, that’s gotten switched, where in some cases the most important thing is playing sports. And I think that was the real driving force [of the regulation]. It needs to be reigned in a little bit so that it can ensure that academics are a priority.”
One of the regulations would be disallowing students to repeat a grade simply to play sports. Tackett said this is a safety rule as much as a way for saving the state money so it doesn’t pay for a student’s education twice.
Tackett said the middle school model would be totally different than that of high schools as 99% of regulations would be left up to local districts, so long as some regulation was put in place.
“It’s like the wild, wild west," said Tackett. "They can do anything they want to, there are no restrictions and there in lies the problem. There’s no limit on the number of games they play, there’s no requirements on academic eligibility. There are no required requirements. The feeling is those kind of limitations need to be put in place.”
Kentucky Board of Education has already approved the proposal, but Tackett said the regulation still needs to be approved by a legislative committee.
Tackett said Kentucky is behind on middle school regulations as the vast majority of states already have some in place. If approved, the new oversight would go into effect for the 2014-2015 school year.
Several local school athletic directors were called for comment and said they are in favor of some regulation for middle schools as student safety is a number one priority.