The Minnesota Hockey Board of Directors (“Board”) has enacted modifications to its Participation Rule, effective for next season. The changes, which are intended to preserve and enhance Minnesota’s unique community-based model, include the removal of the exemption for players changing schools and the addition of a definition of a school.
When the Board first considered recognizing open-enrollment for the 2009-10 season, there was concern that recruiting and all-star teams would occur, severely undermining our community-based model. To prevent this, a significant amount of language was added to the Participation Rule to protect this model, including a one year waiting period.
If a player changed schools without a corresponding change in address, they could not participate at the highest level at their new program for one year. The Minnesota State High School League has a similar rule for players changing schools without a change in address.
There are some circumstances where this waiting period was not fair to the player. An example would be a student that attends a school that only offers K-8. After they finished 8th grade, those players have to change schools, often ending up at a school in a different area. The District Directors thought an exemption should be granted in this case, since the player had no choice but to change schools. This exemption was originally added for the 2011-12 season.
The exemption was re-worded multiple times in subsequent seasons to try to limit the circumstances under which it was applicable. Specifically, the most recent verbiage allowed the exemption for all players transitioning from Elementary School to Middle School, and those transitioning from Middle School to High School. This definition did not have the intended effects and incidentally resulted in some associations losing a significant number of players to other associations.
At the January 2015 meeting, the Board determined the exemption was causing more problems than it prevented. Accordingly, the Board voted to remove this automatic exemption starting with the 2015-16 Season. The District Directors will now handle these situations on an individual basis, which the Participation Rule has always allowed.
The Board took additional action on the Participation Rule at its annual meeting this past weekend. The most recent change is the clarification of a definition of a school as it relates to the Participation Rule. The current version of the Participation Rule is posted below with recent changes marked in grey.
Minnesota Hockey will continue to tweak the Participation Rule as needed to protect our community-based model.
A. PARTICIPATION POLICY - MH is a community-based amateur hockey program. Members in good standing are to participate on teams from their local association (local affiliate) based on the residence of their parent(s) or legal guardian(s). The boundaries of the geographical area served by each local association are determined by MH and recorded in the Affiliate Agreements. In some circumstances, players may participate in another association by requesting a formal waiver from this policy.
B. PARTICIPATION RULE
1. Players must register and participate with the association whose boundaries incorporate the player’s residence. To participate on any other association's team, the player must obtain a waiver.
a. All waiver requests must be submitted on a current Waiver Form provided by MH.
b. The Waiver Form must indicate the reason for the waiver request. (school attendance, opportunity to play on travel team, co-op team, etc.).
c. The releasing and receiving associations may add conditions or restrictions to the waiver. Conditions must be indicated on the Waiver Form and initialed by all parties executing the waiver.
d. Waiver Forms must be signed by the releasing and receiving association presidents before being submitted to the District Director for approval. If the releasing and receiving associations are in two districts, the waiver form must be submitted to both District Directors for approval.
e. Non-Minnesota residents desiring to play for MH must follow the Inter‑Affiliate Transfer Protocol.
Residence – the community in which the parent(s) or legal guardian(s)/custodian(s) as confirmed by a court, having primary custody live(s) the majority of time when tryouts begin. A pending move is not considered unless the parent or legal guardian has closed on the sale of a new residence. Players moving after tryouts begin can be assigned to teams on a space-available basis.
Association of Residence – the association whose boundaries include the player's residence.
Association of School Attendance – the association whose boundaries include the location of the school the player attends.
Home Association – either the Association of Residence, or the Association of School Attendance to which a player has been properly waived and continues to attend school.
School – the primary educational provider of the student to achieve progress towards a high school diploma, the equivalent of a high school diploma, or any post high school degree. If the provider does not instruct the student at a physical facility, the location of the school shall be the student’s primary residence. High school students taking post high school classes shall not be deemed to be attending school at the post high school provider’s location.
Mandatory Waiver – neither the releasing nor the accepting association can decline to approve a school attendance waiver that meets the requirements as described below.
Discretionary Waiver – an agreement between associations to transfer a player for reasons as agreed to by the affected associations and District Director(s). Any of the approving parties have the authority to reject such a waiver.
3. A Mandatory Waiver shall be granted to any player in good standing, without conditions except as described below, who wishes to participate in the MH association whose boundaries incorporate the school in which the player is enrolled and is attending, as follows:
a. For schools with multiple campuses, the "main" campus shall prevail unless agreed otherwise by the affected District Director(s).
b. If a player attends their normally-assigned public school, and that school normally includes students from more than one youth hockey association, the player shall be assigned to their Association of Residence and is not eligible for a school-attendance waiver.
c. Players waived based on school choice shall be deemed to be members of their Association of School Attendance and shall have full rights and privileges accorded to all members of that association, including voting rights. (Exception – see "Changing Schools" below.)
d. Players receiving a waiver based on school attendance shall register with their Association of School Attendance for as long as they are qualified students of that school (including the first year). If they stop attending school in that association's area, they revert back to their Association of Residence for participation or waiver.
4. Players waived for non-school attendance reasons are subject to the receiving association's policies in accordance with MH governing documents (may not be eligible for "A" team, may be assigned to lowest available team, etc.). They shall remain members of their Home Association, not the association they were waived to, with full rights and privileges accorded to all association members including voting rights.
5. Changing Schools
a. Players who change schools without a related change of residence shall elect one of the following:
1. Have full eligibility to compete at any division in their Association of Residence; or
2. Be eligible at all except the highest division in their new Association of School Attendance for one (1) year beginning with the first day of attendance in the new school.
b. Players who have participated in their Association of School Attendance and desire to return to their Association of Residence without a related change of school shall elect one of the following:
1. Have full eligibility to compete at any division with their Association of School Attendance for one (1) year beginning with the first day that they notify in writing both involved associations of their intent to return to their Association of Residence; or
2. Be eligible at all except the highest division in their Association of Residence for one (1) year beginning with the first day that they notify in writing both involved associations of their intent to return to their Association of Residence.
c. For purposes of this rule, a team that is eligible to participate in "AA" level playoffs at the end of the season will be considered a higher division than a team within the same association that is eligible to participate in "A" level playoffs.
d. Submit unusual circumstances to the District Director for a decision, which is final.
6. A waiver must be obtained before a player can participate outside of their Home Association. During a season, a player that registers or participates with one association cannot participate with any other association without a waiver. Trying out in an association is considered participation. A player that participates without a necessary waiver is considered an ineligible player. Refer to the Section entitled Eligibility Provisions.
7. Players denied a waiver or given a waiver with conditions by their Home Association may appeal in writing to the Home Association's District Director. The Director's decision is final.
8. Players having dual citizenship, one being the United States, must conform to this participation rule.