A student athlete eligibility policy put in place last year is now being enforced more stringently, requiring all coaches to check the eligibility of all their players daily. The “daily live eligibility,” according to East Athletic Director Debbie Katzfey, aims to keep students academically eligible both semesters instead of falling behind without teachers and coaches noticing.
“What has happened [in the past] is a kid is eligible in the fall, but then he just tanks at the end of the semester and he fails three classes, and now second semester he’s not eligible,” Katzfey said. “If you’re doing these daily live eligibility, you hope that you start noticing the grades drop [as early as possible], and you can get them and interact with them sooner.”
Prior to this new policy being put in place, the eligibility standards did not follow a student through the semester. According to Katzfey, athletes’ eligibility was checked at the beginning of each semester, and after that “[coaches and administrators] didn’t pay attention until the end of the semester.”
The guidelines at East were no different from the KSHAA regulations, stating that an athlete must have passed five classes at their school the semester prior to their involvement in the sport, as well as being enrolled in five classes the semester of their participation.
The eligibility daily tracker originated at Shawnee Mission North, where former principal Richard Kramer first instated it. When he was promoted to the District Athletic Director position, Kramer made it mandatory that all schools follow the procedure. At East Katzfey, as well as each coach of the current sports will receive an automatic email from Skyward of the ineligible athletes at 2 a.m.
While the policy will potentially benefit student athletes, coaches will be forced to work harder to ensure that every student participating in their respective sport is eligible. This is particularly difficult for teachers at the beginning of each semester, when there are very few grades in Skyward. Because of this lack of points, if students do poorly on the first exam, athletes’ eligibility can be in immediate danger.
If, early in a semester, a student is failing because of a small number of assignments in Skyward, Katzfey says she will bring those respective students in for a face-to-face meeting to discuss their participation in their sport. In accord to school, district and state policy, athletes are allowed to practice while failing two classes, but are barred from competitions.
“Even though this policy is hard on the teachers because an early grade can drop a student to an ‘F’, and difficult for coaches since we have to check every day, it is ultimately a good thing,” Jaime Kelly, teacher and head soccer coach, said. “With this tracker, it keeps kids from falling through the cracks, completely unnoticed.”
Although the policy is intended to benefit student athletes by keeping track of their academics more closely, the pressure increases for students to maintain good enough grades to play, every day of the season.
“[The policy] is good since it will keep people more [regularly] eligible, but I think it should be a weekly check [rather than daily],” senior diver Dante Stokes said. “That way, when you have a missing test or something, it gives you time to make it up.”