Student Handbooks

IHSA Provisions and Rules

Eligibility Rules

When you become a member of an interscholastic team at your high school, you will find that both your school and the IHSA will have rules you must follow in order to be eligible for interscholastic participation.  

The IHSA’s rules have been adopted by the high schools which are members of IHSA as part of the Association’s constitution and by-laws.  They must be followed as minimum standards for all interscholastic athletic competition in any member high school. Your high school may have additional requirements, but they may not be less stringent than these statewide minimums.   

The principal/official representative of your school is responsible to see that only eligible students represent the school in interscholastic competition. Any question concerning your eligibility should be referred to your principal/official representative, who has a complete copy of all IHSA eligibility rules, including the Association’s due process procedure. Only the IHSA Executive Director is authorized to make formal rulings on eligibility, so if your principal/official representative has questions or wishes assistance in answering your questions, the principal/official representative should contact the IHSA Office.  Information contained here highlights only the most important features of the IHSA bylaws regarding interscholastic eligibility. It is designed to make you aware of major requirements you must meet to be eligible to compete in interscholastic competition. The information here is only a general description of major by-law provisions and does not contain the statement of the by-laws in their entirety. You can review the by-laws at  

You may lose eligibility for interscholastic competition if you are not in compliance with IHSA by-laws. Remember, if you have any questions regarding IHSA rules; please contact your principal/official representative.

  1. Attendance
    1. You may represent only the school you attend. Participation on a cooperative team of which your school is a member is acceptable.   
    2. You must be enrolled and attending classes in your high school no later than the beginning of the 11th school day of the semester.   
    3. If you attend school for ten (10) or more days during any one semester, it will count as one of the eight (8) semesters of high school attendance during which you may possibly have eligibility.   
    4. If you have a lapse in school connection for ten (10) or more consecutive school days during a semester, you are subject to ineligibility for the rest of the semester. The specific terms of your extended absence must be reviewed by the Executive Director to determine if it is “lapse in school connection” or not.
  1. Scholastic Standing
    1. You must pass twenty (20) credit hours of high school work per week. Generally, twenty (20) credit hours is the equivalent of four (4) .5 credit courses (two full credits).   
    2. You must have passed and received credit toward graduation for twenty (20) credit hours of high school work for the entire previous semester to be eligible at all during the ensuing semester.
  1. Residence Your eligibility is dependent on the location of the residence where you live full time with your parents, parent who has been assigned custody by the court, or court appointed legal guardian.  You may be eligible if you are entering high school as a freshman and:
    1. You attend the public high school in the district in which you live full time with both of your parents, custodial parent or court appointed guardian, or   
    2. You have paid tuition to attend a public school for a minimum of 7th and 8th grades in a district other than the one where you live with your parents, custodial parent or court appointed guardian and you continue to pay tuition as a high school student in that same district; or  
    3. You attend a private/parochial school located within the boundaries of the public school district where you live with your parents, custodial parent or court appointed guardian; or  
    4. You attend a private/parochial high school and have attended a private/parochial school for 7th and 8th grades, or for any four (4) grades from kindergarten through eighth grades; or  
    5. You attend the private/parochial high school which one or both of your parents attended; or
    6. You attend a private/parochial high school located within a thirty (30) mile radius of the residence where you live with your parents, custodial parent or court appointed guardian.
  1. Transfer
    1. In all transfer cases, both the principal of the school from which you transfer and the principal of the school into which you transfer must concur with the transfer in writing on a form provided by the IHSA Office. You cannot be eligible when you transfer until this form is fully executed and on file in the school office.   
    2. If you transfer after classes begin for the current school term, you will definitely be ineligible for thirty days from the date you start attending classes at the new high school.  In addition, you will be ineligible for that entire school term in any sport in which you engaged in any team activity, including but not limited to tryouts, drills, physical practice sessions, team meetings, playing in a contest, etc. at the school from which you transferred. For example, if you were out for cross country at the school from which you transfer and transfer after classes have started for the school term, you will be ineligible for cross country that entire school term at the new school.   
    3. If you transfer attendance from one high school to another high school, you will be ineligible unless:  
      1. Your transfer is in conjunction with a change in residence by both you and your parents, custodial parent or court appointed guardian from one public school district to a different public school district;  
      2. Your transfer is between high schools within a public school district and both you and your parents, custodial parent or court appointed guardian change residence to the district attendance area for the school to which you transfer;  
      3. Your transfer is from a private/parochial school to your home public high school, you are entering a public high school for the first time, and the principals of both your former and the new school concur with your transfer;  
      4. Your transfer is from one private/parochial school to another private/parochial school located within a thirty (30) mile radius of the residence where you live with your parents, custodial parent or court appointed guardian, you are changing high schools for the first time, and the principals of both your former and the new school concur with your transfer;  
      5. Your parents are divorced or legally separated; you transfer to a new school in conjunction with a modification or other change in legal custody between your parents by action of a judge; and required  court documents are on file at the school into which you transfer;
    4. If you transfer in conjunction with a change in legal guardianship, a ruling on your eligibility must be obtained from the IHSA Office.
    5. If you transfer attendance from one school to another while you are ineligible for any reason, the period of ineligibility imposed prior to your transfer or the period of ineligibility that would have been imposed had you stayed at the school, will be enforced at the school to which you transfer, even if you are otherwise in compliance with the bylaws.
    6. Any questions about your eligibility in any of these instances must be resolved by a formal ruling from the IHSA Executive Director.  
    7. In all other transfer situations, a ruling by the IHSA Executive Director is necessary to determine your eligibility. This ruling must be obtained in writing by the principal/official representative of the school into which you transfer before you participate in an interscholastic athletic contest.  
  1. Age  You will become ineligible on the date you become twenty (20) years of age, unless your twentieth birthday occurs during a sport season. In that case, you will become ineligible at the beginning of the sport season during which your twentieth birthday occurs.
  1. Physical Examination You must annually have placed on file with your principal/official representative a certificate of physical fitness, signed by a licensed physician, physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner in order to practice or participate. Your physical examination each year is good for only one (1) year from the date of the exam. The physician’s report must be on file with your high school principal/official representative.
  1. Amateur Status
    1. If you win or place in actual competition, you may accept a medal or trophy for that accomplishment, without limit to its cost. Your school may provide IHSA state champions with championship rings/mementoes.  
    2. For participating in competition in an interscholastic sport, or for athletic honors or recognition in a sport, you may receive any type of award (except cash, check or legal tender) that does not exceed $75 fair market value. There is no limitation on the value of your school letter.   
    3. The amateur rule does not prohibit you from being paid to referee, receiving pay for teaching lessons or coaching in a little kids’ league, etc. It only applies to your own competition in an athletic contest.   
    4. If you violate the amateur rule, you become ineligible in the sport in which you  violate. You must be reinstated by the Executive Director before you may compete again.
  1. Recruiting of Athletes
    1. The by-laws prohibit recruiting of high school students for athletics. If you are   solicited to enroll in or transfer to a school to participate in athletics, you are being illegally recruited and your eligibility is in jeopardy.   
    2. You will lose your eligibility if you enroll in or transfer to a school in response to recruiting efforts by any person or group of persons, connected with or not connected with the school, related to athletic participation.   
    3. You will lose your eligibility if you receive special benefits or privileges as a prospective student-athlete which are not uniformly made available to all students who attend your school.   
    4. You may not receive an “athletic scholarship” or any other special benefit from your school because you participate in athletics.   
    5. It is a violation for any student-athlete to receive or be offered remuneration or any special inducement which is not made available to all applicants who apply to or enroll in the school.  
    6. It is also a violation to induce or attempt to induce or encourage any prospective student to attend any member school for the purpose of participating in athletics, even when special remuneration or inducement is not given. Please remember that you may not be offered or receive any benefit, service, privilege or opportunity which is not also provided or made available to all prospective students at that school. Note: If you are interested in finding out more information about a school, contact the principal/ official representative or an administrator at the school, not a member of the coaching staff.
  1. School Team Sports Seasons
    1. Each sport conducted by IHSA member schools has a starting and ending date. Your school may not organize a team, begin practice or participate in contests in a given sport until the authorized starting date. Your school may not continue to practice or participate in contests after the authorized ending date. This means that:  
      1. During the school year, you may not participate on a non-school team coached by any member of your school’s coaching staff unless it meets specific criteria established by the by-laws.
      2.  No school coach may require you to participate in an out-of-season sport program as a requirement for being a member of a school team.   
    2. Violation of the sport season by-laws will result in penalty to you and/or to your school’s coaching personnel.
  1. Playing in Non-School Competition
    1. During the time you are participating on a school team in a sport at your high   school, you may neither play on a non-school team nor compete in non-school competition as an individual in that same sport or in any skill of that sport.   
    2. If you participate in non-school competition during a sport season and subsequently wish to join the school team in the same sport, you will not be eligible.   
    3. If you wish to participate in a competition sponsored and conducted by the National Governing Body, or its official Illinois affiliate for the sport, your principal/ official representative must request approval in writing from the IHSA Office prior to any such participation.  
    4. You may try out for a non-school team while you are on your school’s team in that same sport, but you may not practice, receive instruction, participate in workouts, or participate in competition with a non-school team in that same sport until you cease being a member of your school’s team. You cease being a member of your school’s team when the team(s) of which you are a member terminates for the school term.
    5. You will become ineligible if you participate on, practice with or compete against any junior college, college or university team during your high school career.
  1. All-Star Participation
    1. After you have completed your high school eligibility in the sport of football,   basketball, soccer or volleyball, you may participate in three (3) all-star contests in any of these sports and still play for other school teams, provided the high school season in that sport has been completed.  You may lose your eligibility for other interscholastic sports if you play in all-star competition in any of these sports under any other conditions.   
    2. You are not restricted from participating in all-star competition in sports other than football, basketball soccer or volleyball, except that you may not do so during the school season for the sport.
  1. Coaching Schools
    1. A coaching school, camp or clinic is defined as any program, sponsored by an   organization or individual, which provides instruction in sports theory and/or skills; which does not culminate in competition, and which is attended by more than two (2) persons from the school which the student attends.   
    2. During the school term, you may not attend a coaching school or clinic for any interscholastic sport.   
    3. You may attend a coaching school, camp or clinic during the summer (that period between the close of school in the spring and the opening of school in the fall) within the following criteria: 1. You may not attend a coaching school, camp or clinic for any sport after Saturday of Week No. 4 in the IHSA Standardized Calendar (July 28, 2007).  
    4. You may take a private lesson at any time provided no more than two students from your school are in the private lesson.
  1. Misbehavior During Contests
    1. If you violate the ethics of competition or the principles of good sportsmanship, you may be barred from interscholastic athletic contests, either as a participant or spectator or both.
    2. If you are ejected from a contest for unsportsmanlike conduct, you will be ineligible for your team’s next contest. You are also subject to other penalties.