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January 25, 2015

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High school sports governing body to discuss moving power Gorman, other private schools to separate league


Sam Morris

Bishop Gorman tackle Zach Singer stands over Reed High School running back Ty Shepard after stopping him for a loss during the 4A championship football game Saturday, Dec. 3, 2011 at Damonte Ranch High School in Reno. Gorman won their third consecutive title 72-28.

Updated Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2012 | 5:09 p.m.

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When the Del Sol High football team lost in the 2009 state championship football game to Bishop Gorman High, the administrators at the school still considered themselves champions.

Their argument was simple: Public school Del Sol didn’t have the resources to compete with private school powerhouse Gorman, saying their 62-21 defeat was nothing to feel ashamed about.

So, officials hung a banner near the entrance of the Del Sol campus the remainder of the school year proclaiming their football team as public school champions. The players often say their state title game was the week before when they defeated public Basic High in the state semifinals.

“We were the highest ranked public school team in the state, so I thought (the banner) would be appropriate,” said Besty Angelcore, Del Sol’s principal from 2008 to 2010. “We certainly didn’t win the state title, but we advanced further than any other public school.”

But Bishop Gorman High’s dominance against public schools might be coming to an end.

Officials from the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association, the governing body of high school sports, announced Tuesday it will discuss potentially splitting the playoffs for private and public school teams. The item will be discussed March 6 during a NIAA Board of Control meeting at the Peppermill Hotel Casino in Reno.

While the proposal includes all private schools, it’s obviously an issue because of the success Bishop Gorman has enjoyed in recent years.

Gorman has won four of the last five large-school classification football championships, including scoring 72 points last fall in beating Reed High of Reno for their third straight crown. The Gorman football team has one loss to an in-state opponent in the last five years.

Bishop Gorman players gather around the 4A state championship trophy after defeating Northern Nevada's Hug High 96-51 at Lawlor Events Center in Reno.

Bishop Gorman players gather around the 4A state championship trophy after defeating Northern Nevada's Hug High 96-51 at Lawlor Events Center in Reno.

In basketball, Gorman has won three of the last four state titles, including last week beating Hug High of Reno 96-51 for the championship. The Gorman basketball team lost in the 2011 state semifinals, being upset by Bishop Manogue, a Reno private school. In baseball, Gorman has won six straight state titles.

The NIAA issued a statement Tuesday announcing the addition of the item to the meeting agenda but said officials won’t be commenting on the issue. The item will only be discussed at next month's meeting and must be put on a future agenda for a vote. There is no timetable for when a private school league, which is common in other cities, could be voted on.

Gorman officials weren’t surprised to learn of the proposal but found the timing a little odd.

A realignment plan, which is set to debut in the fall, was partially created to help create a competitive balance. Schools such as Gorman, Palo Verde and Centennial will stay in the more competitive top division, while struggling schools, such as Clark or Western, will play in a lower league in which they will be more competitive.

That will eliminate some of the lopsided scores by which Gorman has beaten opponents. Games against Pahrump Valley, for instance, weren’t fun for either side to be part of.

“We really feel like this is a bit premature,” said Grant Rice, Gorman’s assistant athletic director and basketball coach. “With the work the School District and state has put in with realignment the last year or so — and a lot of people worked hard on that — and with open enrollment in its second year, the state of Nevada needed to wait a few years to see if it worked.”

About 30 minutes after Hug beat Green Valley High last week in the basketball state semifinals, the Hug players emerged from the locker room at Lawlor Events Center in Reno to the song “We are the Champions” by Queen. The players immediately started jumping up and down in celebration like they were state champions.

Their logic was that beating Gorman was impossible, making the win against Green Valley — the tournament’s last remaining public school — the de facto state championship game.

Creating a private school league could force Gorman into playing an independent schedule — an idea school officials adamantly oppose, Rice said. There are roughly 12 private schools statewide with athletic programs, but most are lower-classification schools such as The Meadows, Agassi Prep and Lake Mead Christian Academy, and some don’t have football programs.

Faith Lutheran, which captured four straight 3A state basketball championships from 2005-08, is located about 10 minute drive from Bishop Gorman in Summerlin and would be the Gaels' only competition. But Faith Lutheran is far from a power, especially in football, where the Crusaders have struggled the last few years after being promoted to the large-school classification. Bret Walter, the Faith Lutheran athletic director and basketball coach, is also the small-school liaison to the board and said he could not comment.

In past seasons, several public school teams have refused to schedule nonleague games against Gorman, forcing the Gaels to play a national schedule in several sports. In the three major sports of football, basketball and baseball, they’ve thrived against the top-tier competition and have been ranked almost exclusively in the top-10 — which has brought much exposure to the area.

Still, talk with every coach and player at Gorman and they will tell you the same thing: the No. 1 goal is to win a state championship. And not a private-school league title against inferior competition.

“Every kid growing up in Nevada or any state, you want to win games and be part of a special team,” Rice said. “Kids want to win their league, and on the special years, they want a chance to compete against the best in state for a championship.”

Public schools coaches and administrators have long argued the unlimited boundaries from which Gorman can attract players gives it an advantage. It’s the same argument in other cities — several of which have leagues strictly for private schools.

Bishop Gorman kicks to Armwood to open the second half during their game Friday, August 26, 2011. Armwood won the game between the two nationally ranked teams 20-17

Bishop Gorman kicks to Armwood to open the second half during their game Friday, August 26, 2011. Armwood won the game between the two nationally ranked teams 20-17

And when most public schools are on a strict budget or limited in their fundraising, they argue Gorman is again at an advantage because of the resources of its alumni. Add in the school’s new multi-million-dollar campus, complete with state-of-the-art athletic facilities, and some public school coaches feel they can’t compete.

Liberty High’s football team lost to Gorman in last year’s state semifinals, but twice had leads and only trailed by one point late in the third quarter before losing by 20-plus points. It’s a good example that beating Gorman is possible.

“Our kids are working hard and believe we can play with them,” Liberty coach Rich Muraco said. “They won’t stay on top forever. That is what I preach to our kids.”

But Muraco, like most public school coaches, also sees the other side of the equation.

“Of course I see both sides to the argument,” he said. “I see the side where it is hard to compete with Gorman’s limitless funds and backing they have from alumni. A lot of public schools don’t have that. We have limited financial ability, and it does play a big part into your success on the field.

“If you have better facilities, more coaches involved, better workout equipment, then your product on the field will be better. So, I obviously, understand how people feel about Gorman.”

Gorman hasn’t always been a power, though.

Until Gorman won the 2007 title in football, it had gone nearly 25 years without a championship. In some years, it didn’t even make the playoffs. Gorman’s 2006 baseball title was the first in school history.

Gorman isn’t the only school attracting kids from all over the valley, either. The Rancho High baseball team won the Sunrise Regional title the past two years, taking athletes from all over Southern Nevada into its magnet program at the North Las Vegas school and forming a baseball power that was arguably a bounce or two away from winning state.

And through open enrollment, where students are allowed to change schools — and, more importantly, immediately be eligible to play sports — to populate schools with decreasing enrollment, several programs have tried to load up their football program.

At Durango, Arie McQuaig (Palo Verde), Gene Germaine (Sierra Vista) and Marcus Williams (Desert Oasis) joined forces last year on the open enrollment program, but Durango took fourth in the Southwest Division. Liberty is also taking advantage of the open enrollment program and will have key players in 2012 from schools such as Silverado and Spring Valley in its starting lineup.

“I’m sure there are instances of public schools recruiting,” Green Valley High Principal Jeff Horn said. “But at Gorman, there are no boundaries, their donor base is unlimited and the facilities itself attract certain athletes a public school can’t.”

While the talks are very premature and there is no timetable for action, don’t expect this issue to go away anytime soon. After all, it has been rumored — and wanted by several on the public school circuit — for years.

“Gorman has not always been a giant, and they might not always be a giant,” Angelcore said. “But the perception has always been that because they can invite students to join their campus, we don’t stand a chance at the public schools.”

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at

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  1. Seems fair... should almost move them to the Mountain West. Not entirely sure Gorman couldn't beat the Rebels.

  2. This is how it should work. If the competition is too tough, lower the bar. Maybe the NIAA should give out participation ribbons to everyone instead of crowning one state champion.

  3. About time. Gorman's been able to recruit kids for years-- and it shows. More power to them, but they shouldn't be compared to public schools because they don't play by the same rules.

  4. Leave it to the "politically" correct to come up with "solutions." Can't compete? We'll dumb it down for you so your little psyche isn't hurt! Can't comprehend math, science or English? We'll do away with grading students to save their little egos! Can't hit, kick or dribble a ball? We'll open competition to everyone and not keep score. Problem solved. Yeah, right, and when the little rug-rats get out into the real world and compete for a job, what then? Oh, well, we'll pass laws making it discriminatory to expect anyone from knowing how to operate a lathe, scalpel or tractor trailer, etc. when they apply for employment. See how easy it is to do things "politically" correct?

  5. That's what you need to do. If the competition is too good, you get rid of them. Give everyone participation ribbons. Nobody is a looser. I had two kids graduate from Gorman and they went there to get a great education, even though both lettered in multiple sports.

    So here's what you people can do. Get rid of the top of the class, have the tail wag the dog, don't piss anyone off, and whatever you do, don't promote a Christian no no, keep it secular.

    Don't raise your standards, lower the standards of others. Everyone's a winner. Pathetic morons.

  6. I'm not a Gorman fan, and I really do understand the gripe that a Chaparral High School athlete has with getting blown out by Gorman, but I don't see how this solves anything.

    (1) How many private schools are there? Are they just going to keep playing each other several times each year? This isn't like Texas where there a lot of private schools to match other private schools up with.

    (2) How will the 2A private schools like it now that they have to compete with Faith Lutheran and Gorman? That seems a lot more unfair than Gorman vs. Palo Verde.

    (3) Won't the open enrollment public schools just take the place of Gorman and beat all the other public schools because they'll have the same advantage Gorman had?

    (4) What happens next year when all of Gorman's senior starters leave and Gorman is no longer dominant? I'd figure the Palo Verde-talent-level schools would like a crack at them then.

    Finally, if you look at the national rankings for every high school sport, you'll see that they're dominated by private and open enrollment schools. The reason is simple, if you're a great athlete, you're not going to get the same recruiting exposure or coaching if you go to a school that finishes 1-20 every year, so you opt for the private school. I think it's really neat to have Findlay and Gorman in the national rankings every year because it puts Las Vegas prep sports on the map. Even if public and private schools are split, I hope the change doesn't hurt the progress made over the last 10-15 years in Nevada prep sports.

  7. All I can say is, it's about time. These schools recruit, and they compete against schools who are stuck with whoever shows up to try out. Many of them rival small colleges (and in some instances exceed them) in terms of facilities, equipment and personnel. The playing field is definitely not level.

  8. Way overdue! But funny that they had to trash the Northern teams before they would consider it!

  9. i sincerely hope this goes through. a school that can recruit from all over the city, state, and region just doesn't belong playing public schools that may have difficulty filling a roster and funding sports programs. it's really no different than a 3,000 strong urban high school playing a k-12 rural high school where players have to play both ways just to have a team. the playing field just isn't level.
    i would think gorman would applaud this move too. bashing weaker opponents doesn't really make them look better. perhaps gorman should follow in the footsteps of some private schools back east and start playing other regional powerhouses. they can be a big time national high school sports program or they can shoot fish in a barrel. they can't have it both ways.

  10. Gormanites furious!! May lose recruits to public schools now.

  11. "Until Gorman won the 2007 title in football, they had gone nearly 25 years without a championship. In some years, they didn't even make the playoffs. Gorman's 2006 baseball title was the first in school history"......

    Sounds like people are a little jealous now that Gorman is winning some championships....nobody was clamoring about the "unfairness" prior to 2006, were they? Just because other schools programs are mediocre and have coaches that don't instill discipline in their players, doesn't mean that they should punish a private school that demands excellence and actually teaches discipline to their players.

    No matter what they do, Go Gaels!

  12. Mr. Brewer, I just saw the update and you really hit all of the important points on both sides. Very fair article.

  13. That Gorman was not always the best is precisely the point. In the last decade, Gorman built a 100 million campus that rivals many private colleges. It built professional athletic facilities for high school students. And it attracted donors that give millions of dollars for athletic scholarships. It has no business competing for state championships against public schools anymore.

    It has bought itself a national level program. Let it compete nationally.

  14. Some of you are missing the point. It's not about lowering the bar. It's about FAIRNESS! It is completely unfair for public schools to compete against a private institution like Gorman. They have the money, the power, the facilities and they recruit the best players from around the valley. The only ones that don't understand this are Gorman grads and sympathizers. BG should not be eligible for league or state titles so long as they don't have to follow the same rules as the public schools. As KCM stated, "It has bought itself a national level program. Let it compete nationally." Findlay Prep doesn't play in the public leagues...AND...they CRUSHED Gorman...perhaps they should be the state champions in basketball?!?!?

  15. I am not a 99-percenter...I swear to you. But unless the have-nots...the administrators, coaches, athletic directors and students from the public schools make their voice heard...the Gormans of the world and its benefactors will continue to buy whatever they want....state titles including state titles. If anything, high school sports should be about fairness...not who has the most money. Contact the NIAA and make your voice heard. Call

    Eddie Bonine
    Executive Director
    (775) 453-1012
    [email protected]

    Bob Sullivan
    (775) 333-5050 or email him:
    [email protected]

  16. I think the fact Gorman has an assistant athletic director speaks for itself. Public schools in CCSD have one athletic director who is the AD half of the time and a techer the other half of the time.

  17. BillyVegas - Thank you for posting contact information for the NIAA

  18. First off..."Bishop Gorman is the best team in the worst state for high school football"...I heard this quote while watching a televised Gorman game.
    1) Gorman no longer has to recruit..."if you build they will come"
    2) The CCSD could control this...they choose not to...
    3) Public schools in Orange County (Mission Viejo, Edison, Trabuco Hills, Los Alamitos...then there is Long Beach Poly-LA COunty) would trounce Gorman year in year out...Gorman played and barely beat a very weak Servite team at home.

  19. Sounds like a bunch of bitter people to me. Clark loaded up for basketball and got beat. Durango gets new players that started at their other schools for football and get beat. I promise you that every kid involved in sports at Gorman, and not just the best kids but everyone, works harder then any of you know. That is the difference between Gorman and public schools. Last time I checked weights weigh all the same in every weight room so stop complaining and start working hard and you will see results I promise.

  20. We are creatures of our environment. If your environment is set with low standards, you never have to aim higher to compete with the best. So you enable these kids by telling them they no longer have to compete with NBA or NFL quality players. What! No wonder these kids don't get a good education. It's all part of the total package. You morons tell them it's OK. It's because of you who dumb down these kids and then bitch because the graduation rate is low and the proficiency tests are, By some standards, the lowest in the country and you people are proud of that. You pathetic morons.

    I am so proud both my kids went to Gorman.
    I am so proud both my kids lettered in a few sports.
    I am so proud both my kids got a great Catholic education.
    I am so proud my kids had teachers that wanted to teach.
    I am so proud my kids raised their standards.
    I am so proud both my kids got a great education at UNR, a state school.
    I am so proud both my kids contribute to society.
    I am so proud both of my kids have great careers.

    I don't feel sorry for you or your kids.

  21. I had a parent tell me Gorman recruits for the varsity quiz. As a parent, booster, and someone who wants the best for my kids I can't believe the valley is not jumping into these magnet programs. These are the avenues the public school system has to compete. Parents choose to complain about gorman instead of pushing your kid to succeed in life. 96 percent of gorman grads go to college. Clark county public schools fight to stay about a graduation rate of 60 percent. If you think its lopsided now, wait till gorman plays a national schedule. Every athlete in town will stand in line to be on ESPN. If it wasn't for Gorman and Liberty playing a great game, Liberty would never of been invited to play a showcase in LA. The valley needs Gorman. They have been here since 1954. Its time to raise the standard for all. Not throw out the ones that are calling attention to what can be a great Las Vegas.

  22. Alright now here is my 2 cents. Lets start from my hometown of Kalihi Hawaii. Back in the day around the 80's there was a private school by the name of St. Louis that dominated the football scene for about 18 years. From 1985-1990 the Saint Louis Crusaders went on a 55 game win streak. From 1986-1999 the Crusaders took the Prep Bowl/State Title championships. From 1985-1992 the Crusaders were killing teams by 5-6 TD's. From '93-'99 a lot more of the games started to get closer. Still the Crusaders did have their blow out games but against some of the better teams they was doing enough to win. In 2000 the Crusaders lost the State Title game to Kahuku ending their Prep Bowl/ State Title championship streak to 18 straight seasons.

    I bring all this to attention cause I know what a lot of you are thinking that is about time and that its only fair that Gorman gets kicked out, but let me continue with my story. In Hawaii about the late 90's a lot of the athletes that Saint Louis was trying to recruit started to say "NO" to the powerhouse football program. These athletes started to play for their hometown school. A sense of I want to be on the team that beats the Crusaders was going around. Kahuku was the first to break that 18 year mold with a smash mouth brand of football. Than other teams started to come out of slumber and started to make noise in the arena that was dominated by the crusaders. Kahuku opened the doors for other teams like Punahou, Kamehameha, Leilehua, Farrington, Castle and Waianae to compete for the coveted State Title.

    Kids have to realize that yes Gorman does give you that wanted exposure to the masses, but you don't have to go there to get yourself recognized by college recruits. You just have to work hard on and off the field to make it. Enroll yourself in whatever combine or football clinic you can. I think teams like Arbor View, Palo Verde, Liberty, Las Vegas, Foothill and some other teams are just a tackle away from beating Gorman. Everyone can still complain about money and recruiting, but I believe that hard work during the off season and coaching will help close the gap between Gorman and the rest of the elites. Shoot Liberty was the closest in getting an upset against the gaels last year and I think the Patriots have an even better chance this year. I'm jus saying.....

  23. "Working Hard, Discipline, The Will To Succeed, Values"....That's the bottom line. Gorman instills all of those into their students in both the Athletic & Academic part of student life. When Gorman loses, they don't blame the other team, they blame themselves and get at it in the weight room and field to work harder for the next game.

    As kstock24 pointed out above, weights weigh the same no matter where you are....and to expand on that point, a football field is 100 yds no matter where you play. Kids have a choice to stay after school, work out, practice their plays, and study. Gorman requires their student athletes to do all of the other schools?

    When our Son had football practice and offseason weight training at Gorman, all within the rules of the state....his friends at Public schools chose not to participate in those activities at their school and took time off during the offseason...

    It's not a matter of booster money &'s a matter of culture. If it was a matter of money & facilities...then why aren't Meadows & Faith Lutheran winning state titles? They also have a ton of money and great facilities. Has anyone seen the Tuition for either school? Faith is about the same as Gorman & Meadows is almost twice as much! Their campus is just as nice as Gorman's. That argument is BS....

    If these Public School parents cared about fairness, they should start caring about their child and teach them how to work hard, discipline, all starts in the home.

    Go Gaels!

  24. I helped build the new campus in the Southwest area. On Fridays the general contractor would barbecue steaks for the construction workers. Needless to say Tiberti Construction, who is a sponsor of Gorman HS has deep pockets. Their athletic facilities are comparable to a small college and to nothing any other HS in Vegas has to offer. Their advantage of getting any student/athlete in the Las Vegas area to come there is unfair. Most of the students are driving expensive cars and trucks and such. You have to wonder how some of these kids and their families can afford the tuition?

  25. Sinatra:

    You have got to be kidding me with the "Work Hard" mantra. Kids in public schools work as hard as your white collar athletes. The difference is this: 1. The athlete at Gorman is superior to the public school athlete. Hard work can only do so much, then talent takes over. Especially if that talent works hard. 2. Gorman does not play by the same rules. They get to practice in the spring and make it mandatory which is not allowed in CCSD. They also get to use their own equipment at football camps in the spring which again is not allowed for public schools. 3. No one, not Meadows or Faith has remotely similar facilities to Gorman. You show an 8th grader those facilities and an opportunity to be on ESPN then they will certainly choose Gorman over their home school.

    Here is what I suggest. Give Gorman a zone, make them play by the same set of rules as the rest of the public schools when it comes to athletics. It's ridiculous that students can transfer to Gorman and don't have to sit out 180 days to play varsity sports. But, if a students leaves Gorman for a public school they have to sit the 180 days.Also, freshmen can't play varsity sports in the public school system if they are on a zone variance.

    So, Sinatra tell me how all of that is fair, and solved by hard work and discipline?

  26. GURU the spring workouts are not mandatory. If you don't go then you don't play. If you want to play then you better go. Coach Sanchez does not say you are kicked off the team. Facilities wise, Gorman isn't comparable, but every school has a weight room and a field/court, if you put in the work it will pay off. Every state title before next year Gorman did not include the new facility. So once again a weight room and a field is all our facilities.

  27. How ironic! The Faithful Gorman Followers (sounds too much like hypocrisy) are now up in arms about a possbile new private league. How can someone make changes that will deprive the mighty Gorman of continued dominance in every major sport? How unfair!!! I have to say I understand the pain and frustration you are feeling. However, your frustration pales in comparison to every (let me repeat - EVERY) public school in southern Nevada that has been handcuffed by the NIAA rules. No public school can compete against a mega-power private school that has a blank check and no boundaries. You reap what you sow. So quit crying foul, you brought this on yourselves and will not receive any pity from the "lowly" PUBLIC schools.

  28. I would not doubt unfair dealings with Centennial girls bball. Coincidence that they field a team of the best ball players in the city every year. Right! Helps to have someone on your staff working the middle school games and scouting the potential talent.

  29. Oh I was such a happy camper this morning to see this story! I totally believe that Gorman belongs in a private league. If they can afford to attend that school after being "recruited" then they can afford to travel to other private schools. Play in Texas, Arizona, California, New Mexico...Quit bashing all the Hometown players who bust their butts just as much as Gorman. If anyone ever says that public schools do not work as hard as Gorman does, you are mistaken.

  30. There is no place in the NIAA public school conference for a school that recruits and provides athletic scholarships. For those of you defending Gorman, you are entitled to pride in your school, as we all are. You are confusing qualities like ""Working Hard, Discipline, The Will To Succeed, Values", with the ability to rely on private benefactors to entice the best athletes to your private school. Everyone values the first set of qualities. Not everyone values the second, relying on benefactors to set a semi-pro athletic department at Gorman. Standards of fair play should certainly prevail at a private school with Christian values.
    Casino owner Mr. Fertitta is entitled to contribute as much of his money as he chooses, but Gorman then is NOT entitled to continue to play in a state association based on zoning laws and funded publicly. Mr. F. now needs to contribute further funds for travel money to enable Gorman to play in comparable leagues also endowed with private funds.
    The current situation has produced mismatched games that are no fun for the players, the coaches, the fans, the refs, and even, one could hope, sponsors like Mr. F. I have already contacted Mr. Eddie Bonine and urge other interested people to do the same. See the contact information, set forth by another poster, above.

  31. @orca17. I find it hilarious that one of Gorman's colors is orange. These people are ignorant of the fact the orange is anathema to Irish Catholics. Learn some history! :-) Google "Orangemen."

  32. @Grayghost. Sounds like this would be a great topic for an investigative reporter---are you reading this, Mr. Brewer? Let's see how the family demographics of the starting five Gaels corresponds to the rest of the student body. Let's publish the amount of yearly tuition at BGHS.
    I'm "hanging out with this crowd" because I was a three-sport athlete myself, and come from a football family with several members who played and coached in the Big Ten. I grew up in West Michigan where there are extremely strong sanctions against situations like this.
    Sir, we are not naive. If students and parents "come forth" with incriminating evidence, they are also incriminating themselves; they may feel uncomfortable about allowing the police or courts into their lives.
    Check your math. "A dozen a year" would take how many years to total "hundreds" now attending public schools?

  33. @Grayghost This has been an issue (see Mr. Brewer's article) only since about 2007. Gorman fielded teams with not much success until then.
    What makes you think there would be bank statements or check stubs?
    As I said, let's compare the family demographics of Gorman star athletes with the rest of the student body.

  34. Sinatra711 being a Gael makes perfect sense.

  35. The Solution 1.)eliminate the policies that handcuff all the other Public schools,By allowing open enrollment for all schools & to all Student Athletes.This can be done by allowing any academically qualified students to legally transfer to any school of their choosing only one time in their high school career up to their ending of their Sophomore year in school.The families will be responsible for all transportation cost.For example If My child wanted to transfer from Palo Verde to Liberty they can do so as long as they are eligible and have not played a full season on varsity.2.) Once a student Athlete progresses to their Junior year the transfer window is closed regardless of Varsity experience.If a student plays an entire season on any Varsity sport while an underclassmen(FROSH or SOPH ) they are no longer eligible to transfer.