Foreign players, who fueled the first state boys basketball championship last year for Post Falls’ tiny Genesis Prep, will face new restrictions on when they can play.
On Tuesday, the Idaho High School Activities Association voted 11-3 to continue to allow players with F-1 visas, which permit them to attend American high schools for up to four years, to play in all sports.
But starting in the 2018-19 school year, those F-1 players will not be permitted to play if their team makes the playoffs, said Ty Jones, executive director of the IHSAA.
“It’s not about Genesis Prep … It’s not simply about one school,” he said.
Jones estimated that Idaho has about 50 players across the state who would be affected by the rule change. The change comes after several high school coaches, including those who faced Genesis Prep, complained about how schools with F-1 players had an advantage over other schools that could only recruit kids in their small towns.
Last year, Genesis Prep had 15 international students from seven countries among its 60 students.
“It’s a very difficult situation to look at as a whole,” Jones said. “They were trying to create as equitable a playing field as they can. There is no easy answer to it.”
Genesis Prep Principal Chris Finch, whose school fields teams for volleyball, boys and girls basketball and golf, addressed the board Tuesday and lobbied them not to make the change, Jones said.
Neither Finch nor Genesis Prep Athletic Director Conrad Underdahl immediately returned phone calls seeking comment on the rule change. But Jones said Underdahl asked that, instead of barring F-1 students from playoffs, Genesis Prep be allowed to play high schools with more students.
“It was brought up, but ultimately they decided to pull their request for that,” Jones said.
Genesis Prep made national news last year when a couple of their players ended up in a recruiting scandal in New Jersey.
Because of its number of students, Genesis Prep remains in the smallest classification in one of the least populated states in the union.
With some players standing 6-foot-9, the Jaguars (21-4) went 8-0 in the North Star League, including wins of 57 and 56 points over Mullan and wins of 40 and 41 points over Clark Fork.
Genesis Prep advanced to the state title game and faced the defending state champions from Dietrich. The Jaguars won 86-82 for Genesis Prep’s first state title in only its second year of sanctioned basketball games.
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