Category Archives: Eligibility

Topics regarding eligibility in the GHSA.

Wheeler High School Congratulations! But 4 Transfer Students Were Eligible ?

Wheeler State ChampsThis is not a dig at Wheeler High School.  Congratulation on winning the 2014-2015 State Championship.  BUT how is it possible to pick up four top recruits in a season ? For the 2014-2015 season they picked up the following players:
* Shambari Phillips from Tucker High School
* Darius Perry from Mount Vernon
* Cam Jordan from Marietta High School
* Hakeem Anchrum from Parker High School in Birmingham.
Did all of these players have a bona fide move with their families to the the Wheeler service area ? Or did they transfer to Wheeler due to a financial hardship ? Those are the only two reason how they could have been eligible to play.

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Filed under Controversial, Eligibility, Hardships

What is a Hardship hearing ?

When a student transfers from one GHSA member school to another (private or public), that student is ineligible for GHSA varsity sports if there is not a bona-fide move of the student’s family.  So what this means is that if the student didn’t move with his entire family and transfers to another school he can’t play sports for a year.  The intent of this rule is clear.  They don’t want students changing schools on a whim for sports reasons (either being recruited to the student team shopping).  On the surface, this seems reasonable and justifiable.

But what in the case of financial situations where the student had to change schools ?  That’s where a “hardship” comes in.  The GHSA constitution provides for these situations.  The student can apply for a “hardship” and ask for the GHSA executive director to waive this restriction.  The executive director can grant the hardship making the student immediately eligible, or he can ask for more information and request the student attend a “hardship hearing”.

These “hardship hearings” occur either once or twice a month.  The student, coach, athletic director, parents will present their hardship case to four members of the executive committee and either be granted eligibility or denied.

This decision will be given directly to the athletic director with no explanation of a decision. It’s either “Yes” or “No”.

This process is completely subjective and is up to the discretion of the board at that time.

If denied eligibility, the member school can appeal the decision and present their case again at another hardship hearing (in some cases a month later).

For each of these hearing the member school must pay for the hearing.

If the student is denied a second time, the member school can appeal one more time.  This time the appeal must be before the entire executive committee in Macon, GA.  The member school must pay for the expenses of this appeal including lodging and travel expenses of all of the members, which is approximately $5,000.

In 2013-2014, the GHSA made $95,380 from hearings (an increase from $57,565 in 2012-2013).





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Filed under Eligibility, Hardships

Who is the Executive Director ?

Gary PhillipsGary Phillips is the current executive director of the GHSA.  Mr. Phillips is in charge of hardship rulings and interpretation of the by-laws among other things at the GHSA.  His salary for 2014 was $132,000 plus $6,810 in travel expenses.

His contact information is:

706-647-7473, ext. 21


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Filed under Eligibility, GHSA Staff, Hardships

Student Ruled Ineligible After Returning to Home Public School

Dec 10, 2014 – Thomaston, Ga –

LiamBBall_HeadshotJunior high school student, Liam Dahlberg, of Lambert High School was denied GHSA basketball eligibility at his appeals hearing yesterday.  Dahlberg attended Lambert in 9th grade but transferred to Greater Atlanta Christian for his sophomore year.  He was ineligible to play varsity basketball that year due to the GHSA transfer rules since his family did not move.  His family stated that they decided to transfer back for his Junior year to his home public school, Lambert High School, due to the extreme difficulty in commuting to Greater Atlanta Christian (GAC).  Lambert is 0.5 miles away from their home, compared to 20 miles for GAC.  The family had lived in the same house for 10 years and Dahlberg attended high school at Lambert for his 9th grade year and was simply returning to this same school for his junior year.  Once again, because of the transfer rules, Dahlberg was initially denied eligibility.   Lambert High School appealed this decision and was granted a hardship hearing.

This first hearing took place on November 11, 2014.  According to the family, they presented their case to the hardship board.  The family stated that the board was understanding of the predicament the family was in when trying to commute 20 miles to school and even refused to accept financial documents from the family, indicating that “they were not needed.” However, the board denied the hardship.  An explanation was never given to the family.

An appeal was filed and another hearing was granted since the board did not accept the family’s documentation.  This appeals hearing occurred on December 9, 2014.  The chairman of the committee, Nathan Turner, is the athletic director of North Forsyth High School –  a school in the same region and rival to Lambert High School.  The family, once again, presented their case to the board.   Dahlberg’s father explained how the excessive driving to GAC was impacting the family and his job.  However the board once again apparently did not find this as a sufficient enough reason to grant eligibility.  The message sent to the family simply said, “Denied.”

The family attempted to reach out to Gary Philips, the GHSA executive director for an explanation but only received the following reply: “Sir…Under GHSA by laws only the member school may seek appeals to Hardship ruling . Parents maynot appeal directly to the association.
Gary Phillips

Because of the ruling, Dahlberg will be ineligible for 2 years of his high school basketball career.


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Filed under Breaking News, Bylaws, Controversial, Eligibility