CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said Wednesday he would like state lawmakers to take another look at a new law addressing high school sports transfers after several football games involved lopsided scores to start the season.
Ten West Virginia high school teams scored at least 60 points last week. In three games, the winning school amassed more than 80 points. Some of those highest-scoring teams welcomed multiple transfers this season.
Lawmakers passed a bill this year allowing high school athletes to switch schools one time during their careers and be immediately eligible. The bill became law without the Republican governor’s signature. Transfers previously had to sit out for one year of athletic competition unless they received a waiver.
The transfer change was part of a bill that expanded athletic opportunities for recipients of a state-funded Hope Scholarship that supports private school tuition, homeschooling fees and a wide range of other expenses.
“The vote was so significant in favor. I felt like it was a mistake,” Justice said during his weekly media availability. “I felt like vetoing a bill only would have led to an override, which is a waste of time.”
Justice, who as a longtime high school basketball coach won a girls state championship in 2012 with the help of some out-of-state transfers, said he is concerned that high school sports in West Virginia would end up with a handful of “super teams” through the transfer process.
“We are going to destroy high school sports all across this state if we don’t watch out what we're doing," Justice said. "It is a bad move. I don’t know any other way to say it. We should not have done this. And now we've got to live with it. So we need to revisit and come up with a better solution to what we’ve got.”