NCHSAA presser

NCHSAA Board of Directors President Jerry Simmons, board vice president Bobby Wilkins and Commissioner Que Tucker addressed media members during a virtual press conference on March 11.

CHAPEL HILL — In response to inquiries raised by state legislators regarding the operation and actions of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association, the NCHSAA held a press conference on Thursday, March 11, in which officials shared their perspective and took the opportunity to defend the association and its implementation of policy and procedures.

NCHSAA Board of Directors President Jerry Simmons refuted any contention that the NCHSAA has been negligent in their duties to their membership.

“Over the past several days, it’s been disheartening and honestly infuriating to hear some of the comments that the members of our General Assembly have made about the NCHSAA, its governance and leadership of high school athletics in our state. These comments range from ill-informed to just plain wrong,” Simmons said. “To set the record straight, I want to unequivocally state that the NCHSAA is not an organization devoid of oversight and is not lining the pockets of its staff and board members. Any assertion otherwise is careless, uninformed and downright false.”

“The board of directors provides direct oversight of the day-to-day operations of the NCHSAA,” Simmons continued. “Members of our board of directors regularly supervise and review the association’s budget, investments and distributions to member schools. These items are approved by the board on behalf of the member schools we serve.”

Simmons also explained that the association is fully audited annually.

“The NCHSAA has an exemplary record of fiscal responsibility and stewardship of the resources entrusted to us by its member schools,” he said.

The association’s remarks come in response to reports over the previous week that state legislative members have voiced concerns over the association’s role and authority when it comes to oversight and administration of high school athletics in North Carolina — most notably the organization’s financial status and whether there is any conflict or issue regarding the association’s private, nonprofit status in overseeing of athletic programs of publicly funded schools.

“We have heard legislators state the NCHSAA is not student focused. They have insinuated that the NCHSAA has charged student-athletes to play in our programs, have taken cash and resources from our member schools, particularly the poorest of schools, and that the NCHSAA does not have the credentials to make the decisions we have been required to do during this pandemic. All of this is far from the truth,” said NCHSAA Commissioner Que Tucker. “The NCHSAA has never charged individual students fees for regular season and postseason competition. While the NCHSAA does charge minimal membership dues for services that the association provides to its member schools, those fees have been authorized by the board of directors.”

Tucker added that, “The NCHSAA does not take gate money away from its member schools, and it does not impact its poorest members by stripping them of its resources. The association does not receive any gate money during the regular season with one exception. Currently member schools are allowed to voluntarily schedule one extra game per sports season above and beyond the season limitation, which the association receives 25 percent of the gate revenue for that contest, (while) schools keep the other 75 percent. The 25 percent is designated for the NCHSAA Endowment. This is a voluntary and extra regular season game.”

Tucker went on to elaborate on the association’s procedures for the group’s financial administration during postseason competition with member participating schools.

“During the playoffs, the NCHSAA takes a small percentage of gate revenue that is made in each round of the state playoffs, but still shares that revenue with competing teams in that contest, all the way up to and through the state championship games,” Tucker explained. “Does the NCHSAA need revenue to operate? Absolutely. Every organization does. Does the NCHSAA unnecessarily put heavy burdens on its member schools financially? No, it does not. In fact, when no or limited spectators were allowed by Gov. (Roy) Cooper’s executive orders, the association has not taken a share of revenues made for home games hosted by our member schools. This is only possible because of the solid financial position of the association and the commitment to measured and very meaningful stewardship by the board of directors.”

The NCHSAA representatives also answered a number of media questions including its treatment of non-traditional schools in postseason competition with traditional schools, whether the association received a Paycheck Protection Program loan, whether the NCHSAA inquiries were politically motivated and the total number of individuals employed at the NCHSAA office.

“We exist to support (and) enrich those opportunities. I have been with the association now for almost 30 years, and if I thought that we were straying from that mission, I would not continue to do what I do,” Tucker said. “I believe that we have been led under the guidance of our board of directors in a way that is fair. It is equitable, and it provides unlimited opportunities for our students to participate in interscholastic athletics. We also are fortunate that we are able to also provide unlimited opportunities for leadership development. And so, with all of that in mind, I feel good about what the NCHSAA has done, is doing today, and will do in the future.”

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