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How to handle a high-school transfer story

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by DTSEPS, Jun 10, 2012.


    DTSEPS New Member

    "Larry," local AAAA high school football coach resigns after 24 seasons, the first 21 of which were outstanding; the last three, not so much. "Nick," local private school coach, resigns two months later to take a new job. Larry applies for and gets the job at the private school, where in all likelihood he'll ride off into the sunset.

    About 5-6 kids transfer to the private school to finish their careers under Coach Larry — not unexpected, a really not big news (I gave the transfers about 5 graphs in one of the spring practice stories I did on the private school in early May, mentioning names and what positions they'll likely play).

    This week, last year's starting QB from the high school shows up for summer workouts at the private school after going through spring camp at the high school under the new coach, "Carl." He was on top of the QB depth chart again entering the summer, so this transfer carries a little more weight than the others, obviously.

    As for handling it, calling "Larry" and "Carl" is a given, but the kid is 17. I'd prefer to leave him out of it, and let the adults do the talking. What are your thoughts on talking to minors in these situations?

    DTSEPS New Member

    Of course, there's always that chance that he's could say "Coach Larry gave my Mom and Dad $1,000 for me to come here." That's unlikely, and not my biggest concern (I've checked into several "recruiting" rumors, and they're unmerited, started by the same smalltown low-lives who were calling for Coach Larry's head at the high school).

    It's also of note that this kid was not a good QB, either. He's a good athlete, but not a good QB. He led a winless team last season.
  3. HanSenSE

    HanSenSE Well-Known Member

    Is he eligible upon enrollment? Check with the state association, rules vary from state to state.

    DTSEPS New Member

    He is.
  5. PaperDoll

    PaperDoll Well-Known Member

    Why wouldn't you interview the kids? Their parents, too.

    Mom and Dad are the ones who made the decision to transfer to a private school, and they (should be) the ones paying the tuition. If they're not, well... that could be interesting too.

    At the very least, you can find out what it is about Coach Larry that makes him so wonderful from the perspective of kids who play for him. If your state makes them sit out, that would be particularly important since they're giving up playing time to follow this guy to another school.

    DTSEPS New Member

    Everything is on the up-and-up with the transfer. He is not being given a scholarship of any sort, and he is eligible to play immediately.
  7. BillyT

    BillyT Active Member

    It's still cheesy as hell.

    I hate that shit.
  8. SharpTusk

    SharpTusk Member

    I think it gives you more credibility for any kid in high school, even if technically 18 years old, if you call the parents and ask if one or both would meet with you and their son. Your chances of getting a measured response out of both the parent and child are good, but people will take their word with whatever weight the reader wants to give it. But some from the outset will wonder where the parents were if you start asking questions of the child without them present. You'll be made out to be the shifty one.

    One question... how does anyone know with certainty that the family is not getting financial aide, particularly in light of FERPA? Maybe there's an easy explanation but it seems to me that the information should be locked down. Just wondering..

    DTSEPS New Member

    I have two sources I thoroughly trust and who are very close to the situation telling me it's on the level. It's a very small town — a town from which I hail — and word of something like this would get out. No credible source has hinted at anything. School officials (my sources) say he's there on his own dime, as are all the transfers. I also happen to know that it's one of the many small private schools in the South on the verge of going belly-up because of the economy. The school simply can't afford to give financial aid. That's part of the vicious cycle which has caused enrollment to drop from over 500 students nearly a decade ago to just over 250 now, K-12. The kid has signed a contract of enrollment, and the private school governing body's rules read that he's eligible.

    So, again, the legitimacy of the transfer is not the issue.

    OK, so a kid transfers. It's news, yes, but not because it's some big scandal. It's going to be a side-bar to a summer workout update, certainly not my lead story. The question is do you find it ethical to talk to a minor about a private decision like transferring, especially without talking to his parents?

    I'm personally not wanting to talk to the kid without parental consent, and moreover, I don't think I need more than the coaches' input because I really think it's nobody's damn business where parents decide to send their son to school or why, unless of course their is cause to speculate that the move is not legal or is in some way underhanded. I have no reason to think that.
  10. I don't really understand your hang-up here. The kid transferred. It's a newsworthy transfer and it doesn't sound like it's all that well kept a secret. Call up the parents and explain you'd like to talk to the kid about why he transferred, what it is about the coach that makes him want to switch schools to play for him, etc. Tell them you understand if they don't want the kid to talk to you alone and you'd be more than willing to sit with all three of them at the same time to talk if they're so willing. If the kid doesn't want to talk or the parents don't want him to talk then you write the story without their perspective. If they want to talk, even better.
  11. dixiehack

    dixiehack Well-Known Member

    Do you ask daddy's permission before asking Johnny Touchdown about that 50-yard bomb to end the half? Presumably he's talked to the press before. If he doesn't answer, so what?

    And I think you're missing out on a good story. Not many high school kids would be so loyal to a coach after a winless season that a half-dozen transfer to keep playing for him. This is a business where curiosity is a good thing.
  12. Tarheel316

    Tarheel316 Well-Known Member

    Doesn't seem like a difficult issue to me. What I have to deal with a lot are transfers from one public school to another without the families moving. That's tougher to handle.
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