Foreign Student Forces Forfeit

June 27, 2017

In Michigan, the Traverse City Central High School boys' track and field team had to forfeit eight championships, one of which was a Division I regional title, as a penalty for having an ineligible international student-athlete on the team.

According to the Traverse City Record Eagle, the Michigan High School Athletic Association has a “Play One Wait One” rule for international student-athletes who are in the US on F1 and J1 visas, allowing student-athletes to participate in athletics their first year but not their second. The student in question had already participated in athletics at his previous school a year before transferring to Traverse. Mark Mattson, athletic director for Traverse, reported the violation to the MHSAA, taking full responsibility.

Tom Rashid, the MHSAA's associate director, said that the rules were in place to prevent people from bringing in talented athletes from other countries just to play sports, while still allowing student-athletes to study abroad.

"We realize this (foreign-exchange student program) is a value to these students," Rashid said. "It has many benefits to the incoming students, benefits to the classmates, benefits to the community, global benefits. It's just important it's not abused and that it's appropriate and fair.”

Rashid said that athletic directors sometimes make mistakes of this nature, but he has noticed that they generally do not repeat it.

"This was an honest mistake made by good people," Rashid said. "It happens, unfortunately, in a number of schools. No one here is surprised Traverse City Central did the right thing. That's a good school and a good district."

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