RALEIGH - A new sanctioning body initiated by the state government could drastically alter the landscape of North Carolina high school athletics in the near future.
A bill introduced by state Senate Republicans on Tuesday, July 20, would pull the oversight of high school athletics away from the North Carolina High School Athletic Association to a new 17-member commission.
House Bill 91, discussed on Tuesday, July 20, took its first significant step forward toward law when the state Senate Committee on Education voted in favor of the bill on Wednesday morning, July 21. The bill was amended from its original focus on students with autism to overhaul high school sports in North Carolina, and would eliminate the NCHSAA by the fall of 2022.
NCHSAA Commissioner Que Tucker stated that the association found out about House Bill 91 the morning the legislation was introduced, and noted that the organization has had very little time to digest everything that is in the bill.
"The General Assembly's discussion today of HB 91 represents what we believe to be a full-scale attack on the ability and desire of the NCHSAA member schools to govern their own affairs as relates to high school athletics, education-based athletics. We believe that high school athletics in our state should not be a political issue. When you start peeling away or turning the pages of this bill, clearly there are politics involved in how the new Commission that they have mention would be established," NCHSAA Executive Director Que Tucker said in an opening statement during a Tuesday evening, July 20, media conference. "We want what is best for students in North Carolina, particularly the student-athletes in our program. We believe that many members of the General Assembly are motivated to that end as well. We have demonstrated our willingness to partner with the General Assembly, and we want to work towards our goal of being the national model for education-based athletics in the country."
The NCHSAA is currently responsible for overseeing the rules and regulations for high school athletics, and also hosts state championship events.
With the passage of the bill, the new 17-member commission would take over oversight of high school athletics on the state level.
Nine members of the commission would be appointed to four-year terms by the governor, with four appointees each coming from both the General Assembly House Speaker as well as the Senate President Pro Tempore.
Under the bill, the NCHSAA would cease to exist - with a timeline as soon as the 2022-23 school year, and state high schools athletics would be governed through a designated organization by the state Board of Education.
The commission would operate under the umbrella of the Department of Administration, part of the state government, opposed to the NCHSAA, a private non-for-profit organization that has provided oversight for high school athletics in North Carolina for more than a century.
The bill in its current form would prohibit the commission from several actions, including soliciting grant funding and sponsorships for purposes other than state tournaments, providing grants to schools, providing scholarships to players, retaining gate receipts other than from the state tournament, controlling the intellectual property of schools, such as logos and mascots, and audio and visual rights to games, and delegating its statutory duties to a director.
The NCHSAA has drawn the attention of the state senate due to numerous concerns - including financial implications of the organization and whether it was legal and appropriate for a private organization to oversee high school athletics for public schools.