Student-athlete Eligibility

Regulations and Procedures
for the Organization and
Administration of Athletic Programs

Maryland Athletic Association

  1. Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Programs.
    Under the authorization of the Maryland State Board of Education and the State Superintendent of Schools has established regulations governing athletic programs for boys and girls in the public secondary schools of Maryland.

  2. The Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) supervises the athletic programs in the public secondary schools of the State. All of the public high schools in Harford County are members of this association and are governed by its actions.

  3. Local school systems may supplement the State rules governing their athletic programs with more restrictive ones. Less restrictive rules may not be adopted.

  4. Harford County Board of Education.
    The policies of the Board of Education of Harford County regarding the program of interscholastic athletics and the notes clarifying their implementation are as follows:
    • 02.08.083 - Participation in Extracurricular Activities - Eligibility Rules

      “In order to participate in curricular and extra-curricular activities in any Harford County Public School, students shall be officially registered and physically attending a Harford County Public School.”

    • 02.08.095 - Interscholastic Athletics

      "A well-balanced program of interscholastic athletics is provided for high school student-athletes as an integral part of the comprehensive program of physical education. All such programs shall be in compliance with the Maryland State Board of Education Bylaw 13A.06.03 and such other administrative regulations and procedures deemed necessary by the Superintendent of Schools to organize and administer effectively the program of interscholastic athletics."

    • Extracurricular activity

      A school-sponsored activity that usually occurs beyond the regular school day, is not graded and does not earn a credit, and is not described as part of a course of study or subject offering in the Student Education Planning Guide.

    • Activity

      A performance, practice, or participation related to an extracurricular program usually administered and supervised by the school.

Athletic Participation Requirements

A student-athlete in the public high schools of Harford County is eligible to participate in interscholastic athletics when:

  1. Completed registration on Form Releaf
  2. Pre Participation Physical Examination Forms:     History, Physical Examination, and Preparticipation Forms  (Español)
    1. A physical examination required of candidates and participants in interscholastic athletics shall be valid only from June 8 through the following June 7 in order to enable a student-athlete to participate in interscholastic sports during this period of time.
    2. Must be completed by a physician or authorized health care provider.

  3. Proof of Health Insurance or Accident Insurance
    1. All student-athletes must have an accident insurance policy that will cover the sport in which they wish to participate before they may take part in the sport for either practice or games.
    2. If insurance is needed, reasonably priced policies may be purchased through an independent carrier provided by the school system. Information on the purchase of school health/accident insurance may be obtained at your school office or at this website: Student-athlete Accident Insurance. Additional access to health/accident insurance can also be found at Medical Assistance Information – Maryland.

  4. High School Athletics Code of Conduct Policy

Rules for Student-athlete Participation

  1. The age requirement of the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association is fulfilled. (COMAR 13A.06.03.02C)

  2. All ninth graders are eligible for participation in interscholastic athletics at the beginning of their freshman school year.

  3. Student-athletes transferring within the public high schools of Harford County will maintain their eligibility status.

  4. Student-athletes transferring from outside of the public high schools of Harford County must meet HCPS eligibility requirements.

  5. A transfer student-athlete is eligible to participate in an interscholastic contest if he/she has had continuous participation in the same sport prior to the transfer AND after being in attendance and participating at the high school to which he/she transferred for a period of: three (3) practice sessions for an out-of-county transfer and five (5) practice sessions for an in-county transfer. Any transfer student-athlete, whose season has ended at their previous school, is not eligible to participate.

  6. If a student-athlete participant reports late for a sports season, he or she must participate in at least 10 practices before the student-athlete can participate in a regularly scheduled contest.

  7. The date on the MPSSAA Eligibility Form where the Athletic Director's signature is located will be used to determine the ten practices before an student-athlete can participate in a contest. Any exception to this rule must have the recommendation of the Athletic Director and the approval of the Supervisor of Interscholastic Athletics.

  8. A student-athlete is permitted to participate in two interscholastic sports (JV or varsity) in the same season. Procedures for this opportunity is located in the Resources section of this handbook under Miscellaneous Athletic Forms.

  9. Student-athletes may not compete on both varsity and junior varsity teams on the same day of a contest. Student-athletes may not exceed MPSSAA guidelines on maximum games per week or season. (COMAR 13A.06.03.04 C2)

  10. On the day of a contest, student-athlete participants must attend the student's entire day. When a contest is on a Saturday or non-school day, the student-athlete must be present the last school day prior to the contest. In extenuating circumstances, which shall be determined by the Principal, the Principal may grant that the student-athlete be allowed to participate.

  11. Students, while participating on a school team, are permitted to participate in the same sport outside of school during the sport's season. This participation shall meet the criteria of the Maryland State Board of Education Bylaw 13A.06.02G, Interscholastic Athletics in the State, which follow:

    1. The outside participation may not conflict with the practice or games schedule of the school, including district, regional, and state championship play unless prior written approval has been obtained from the school Principal and coach;

    2. Student-athletes who elect to participate on an outside team and do not participate and practice with the school team throughout the designated sport's season are ineligible to represent the school in all games that determine a county, district, regional, or state championship during that sport season.

  12. A student, who has participated as a player in a particular sport in a varsity or junior varsity game, may not participate in an organized intramural program in that sport in the same school year unless he/she has been dropped from the varsity or junior varsity squad for the remainder of the season.

  13. Voluntary Online Student-athletes at Swan Creek

    SB 681 was enacted on July 1, 2023. This bill provides student-athletes who attend virtual schools access to extracurricular activities at the public school the student-athlete would otherwise attend. (District-Defined Home School)

    1. Only voluntary virtual student-athletes who attend Swan Creek are eligible for this opportunity.
    2. Swan Creek student-athletes must meet all eligibility requirements.
    3. Transportation to the District-Defined Home School is not provided by HCPS.
    4. Student-athletes must complete their Swan Creek school day before leaving to attend practice.

Student-athlete Eligibility - Scholastic

A student-athlete will be declared ineligible when (Board Policy – Participation in Extracurricular Activities):

  1. The student-athlete has received a failing grade in any subject on a quarterly report card or the student-athlete has received a failing grade in any subject as a final grade.

  2. The student-athlete is not able to meet graduation requirements within the normal four year program.

Starting and Ending Times:

Removal from eligibility shall be effective the first day of school following the distribution of report cards. Return to eligibility can be effective the first day after the quarter ends. Student-athletes must meet eligibility requirements to be reinstated. The final decision regarding the student-athlete's eligibility appeal/probation must be made no later than the tenth school day after report cards. The Principal will make the final determination.

At the end of the year, both scholastic rules shall apply.

Grades earned in summer school may replace failing quarter and final grades on the fourth quarter report card so that a student may become eligible for the start of the next school year.


An ineligible student-athlete may appeal his/her ineligibility to a school Eligibility Committee. The student-athlete must make an appeal in writing within three school days after he/she has been declared ineligible. In the event that the ineligibility occurs at the end of the fourth quarter of the school year, the school will determine the due date in which the appeal needs to be filed. All appeals for Fall Sports will be heard before the first day of practice by the eligibility committee. (NOTE: Based on MPSSAA guidelines)

Eligibility Committee:

A committee to monitor eligibility requirements and to hear appeals shall be composed of one (1) administrator, the Athletic Director, one (1) guidance counselor, and at least three (3) non-coaching teachers. The Eligibility Committee shall meet no later than the sixth school day after report cards are issued.

The Eligibility Committee will make one of two recommendations to the Principal.

  1. If the student-athlete is unable to control the circumstances causing the failures, recommend to the Principal that the student-athlete be declared eligible.
  2. If the student-athlete was able to control the circumstances causing the failures, recommend to the Principal that the student-athlete should remain ineligible.

Probation Procedure:

A student-athlete should be on probation until the scheduled distribution of Interim Progress Reports (IPR). If the student-athlete is passing all classes when IPR's are issued, the student-athlete will be declared eligible for the remainder of the quarter. If the student-athlete is failing any class when IPR's are issued, the student-athlete will become ineligible.

NOTE: Probation will be at the discretion of the Principal and is applicable only if a student-athlete has appealed to the Eligibility Committee. The Principal's decision is final in cases of appeals. An ineligible student-athlete may not participate until the Principal renders a decision. The Principal's decision shall be made no later than the tenth school day after report cards are issued.

NOTE: At a minimum, each high school shall issue interim reports to student-athletes who are in danger of failing at the midpoint of each marking period and shall advise their parent/guardians. Schools may implement more frequent checkpoints at their discretion.

Student-athlete Eligibility - Citizenship

A student-athlete will be declared ineligible when (Board Policy – Participation in Extracurricular Activities):

  1. The student-athlete is referred to the office of the Principal and disciplinary action of suspension results.

    Starting and Ending Times:

    Removal from eligibility shall be effective the first day of the suspension or its equivalent. Return to eligibility can be effective at the conclusion of the suspension or its equivalent.

  2. The student-athlete violates the policies of the Board of Education of Harford County, or the policies of a high school which result in a referral to the Superintendent of Schools.

    Starting and Ending Times:

    The student-athlete will be prohibited from participating in all extracurricular activities, including interscholastic athletics, beginning on the first day of the suspension. Student-athletes who are referred to the Superintendent for further disciplinary action may be declared ineligible for an additional number of school days to be determined by the Superintendent. In addition, the normal disciplinary procedures of the Harford County Public Schools will be taken.


There is no appeal for student-athletes who are ineligible for citizenship reasons.

Upon return to school, the Eligibility Committee will review the circumstances which led to the disciplinary action and may make a recommendation to the Principal to extend the student-athlete's ineligibility. The Principal will make the final determination.

Summary of Athletic Eligibility

For purposes of clarification, the signatures of the Principal and Athletic Director that are included on all team rosters (which are to be sent to the Supervisor of Interscholastic Athletics before the first play date in any season) will mean that the student-athletes on the team rosters have met all of the following eligibility requirements:

  • That all student-athletes are academically eligible according to the HCPS Board of Education Policy.

  • That registration in Form Releaf has been completed by the parent/guardians indicating their permission for participation in the sport.

  • That every participant has health insurance verification.

  • That a completed medical form signed by a qualified physician, the parent/guardian and the student-athlete is on file indicating that the student-athlete is physically fit to participate in the respective sport.

  • That all student-athletes are legal residents in the school attendance area or are approved as an out of district student. Seasonal verification is required.

  • That all student-athletes have not participated in more than four seasons in any one sport.

  • That all student-athletes have maintained amateur status as defined by regulation .10 on page 32 of the MPSSAA Handbook.

Important Reminders

  • A student-athlete may not participate in any games or practice:

    1. During a period of suspension

    2. Additional penalties will follow (COMAR 13A.06.03.05)

  • Playing a contest with an ineligible student-athlete will result in a forfeit of that contest. Additionally, the student-athlete will be ineligible for the next game.

  • A Principal may also declare a student-athlete ineligible for disciplinary reasons.

  • The Principal or designee must notify the Supervisor of Interscholastic Athletics in writing within 24 hours when a student-athlete's eligibility status has changed. This notification shall be confirmed in writing via email.