This memorandum details the role of the Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) in regulating student participation in middle school and high school sports and other interscholastic activities. Topics addressed include recent legislation and the ability of both nonpublic school students and public virtual school students to participate in KSHSAA-regulated sports and activities.
KSA 72-7114 et seq. establishes that the authority and responsibility to regulate, supervise, promote, and develop activities — such as athletics, music, forensics, dramatics, and any other interschool extracurricular activities — by students from grades 7 through 12 lies with an association composed of a majority of the high schools within the state. Statute further outlines various requirements of the organization, such as making an annual report to the State Board of Education and outlining the size and composition of the organization’s governing board. Within the State of Kansas, the KSHSAA fulfills the role of this organization.
Kansas State High School Activities Association
Formed in 1937 and incorporated in 1956, KSHSAA is a private, nonprofit association governed by a 70-member board of directors composed of elected officials, school administrators, educators, and coaches. The board of directors is responsible for making rules and bylaw changes, while a nine-member executive board is elected from within the board of directors to manage policy, conduct hearings, and manage the affairs of the organization.
KSHSAA is composed of 350 senior high schools and 408 middle or junior high schools. While member schools can be either public or private, they all must be accredited by the Kansas State Board of Education.
Part of KSHSAA’s regulation of interschool extracurricular activities is to determine eligibility requirements for participation in said activities. In order for a student to be eligible to participate, they must meet the following criteria:
- Have passed a minimum of five new subjects the previous semester;
- Be enrolled in and attending a minimum of five new subjects during the present semester; and
- Be a bona fide student in good standing per KSHSAA guidelines. To be considered a bona fide student in good standing, the student must meet the following requirements:
- Be attending the school in which they wish to participate;
- Not be under a penalty of suspension;
- Have character and conduct that does not discredit the school or student;
- Be in good standing;
- Not use anabolic steroids; and
- Not be competing under an assumed name.
Nonpublic School Students
The passage of House Sub. for SB 113 by the 2023 Legislature allows for any nonpublic school student to participate in any activity offered by a public school district that is regulated, supervised, promoted, and developed by the KSHSAA, as long as the student meets the following criteria:
- Be a resident of the school district;
- Be enrolled and attending a nonpublic elementary or secondary school;
- Comply with the requirements of KSA 72-6262 and amendments thereto (health-related requirements); and
- Pay any fees required by the school district for participation in such activity.
The local board of education could also require a nonpublic school student who participates in an activity to enroll or complete a particular course as a condition of participation, if such requirement is imposed upon all other students who participate in such activity.
As of August 1, 2023, KSHSAA has put forth guidance and other supporting documents to assist school districts with requests by nonpublic school students to participate in KSHSAA-regulated sports and activities. KSHSAA has largely maintained the same eligibility requirements regarding course enrollment, grades, and good standing of a student. KSHSAA relies upon the verification of the nonpublic student’s school administrators to verify the student meets said eligibility requirements.
Virtual School Students
Public virtual school students are not included in the provisions of House Sub. for SB 113 because they are public school students and therefore are governed by KSHSAA policy. Current KSHSAA policy allows students attending a virtual school accredited by the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE) to establish eligibility at the KSHSAA-member public school in which they reside. In order to be eligible, the student must meet the following criteria:
- Be attending a KSDE-accredited virtual school;
- Be currently enrolled in and attending a minimum of one class at the KSHSAA-member public school;
- Pass a minimum of five units of credit the prior semester; and
- Be enrolled in a minimum of five units of credit not previously passed for the semester.
Additionally, the local school district must approve a dual-enrollment agreement with the virtual school.
by Matthew Willis
Senior Research Analyst