ALBEMARLE — With House Bill 91 looming on the horizon, the future of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association is hanging in the balance.
On July 21, the N.C. Senate Education Committee voted in favor of the bill that would potentially dissolve the NCHSAA by the fall of 2022, replacing it with a 17-person commission containing nine governor-appointed members, four Senate-appointed members, and four House-appointed members.
If the Senate votes for HB 91, the House would then vote on if the scope of high school sports in North Carolina should move from a private, nonprofit organization to a “North Carolina Interscholastic Athletic Commission” held by the state’s Department of Administration. The bill, if passed, would then need to be signed by Gov. Roy Cooper.
“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,” Que Tucker, commissioner of the NCHSAA, said during a July 20 virtual press conference. “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 mentioned would be established.”
Tucker said that the NCHSAA has a “proud history spanning almost 110 years” and that the 427 member schools in the organization have had an active role governing the direction of high school sports throughout the years in the best interests of their students.
“We implore the members of the General Assembly to recognize the outstanding work that we have done, are doing and look forward to doing in high school athletics in our state,” she continued. “We have invited them to share in good faith if they have ideas to improve the NCHSAA or would like to discuss matters pertaining to the Association.”
Senate Republicans have contended that the NCHSAA has fiscally mismanaged its $40 million in assets — an amount that equates to twice the assets of any other high school sports association in the United States.
“The NCHSAA Board and Staff hope that legislators will participate in a productive and positive way to improve high school and youth athletics,” Tucker said. “However, we feel it is unlikely, at best, that students in our state will be the benefactors if changes such as what we see in HB 91 and suggestions like we see in that bill are made under the threat of imminent legislative takeover.”