ALBEMARLE –– In light of North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s recent order to close public schools for the rest of the academic year, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association has followed suit.
Last Friday, NCHSAA Commissioner Que Tucker announced the suspension of all spring and winter sports championships, including the conclusion of the basketball state tournaments that have been put on hold since early March.
“Today’s decision is difficult for the NCHSAA Board of Directors and staff,” Tucker said. “We empathize with the thousands of student-athletes, especially graduating seniors, coaching staffs, officials and family members affected by this decision.
“However, this decision reflects a commitment to keeping our student-athletes, officials and member schools’ staffs and their communities safe, while following the guidelines provided by the Governor and his team, along with the Department of Public Instruction and the State Board of Education.”
Thirty-eight state athletic associations have ended spring sports for the remainder of the 2019-20 academic year.
According to the NCHSAA’s press release, the association’s board of directors will meet this week to discuss the possibility of finalizing the state basketball playoffs. Many of the basketball tournaments were down to the final championship round only to be cut short due to COVID-19 safety precautions.
The board will also negotiate planning for academic eligibility concerns for the fall as well as dictate policies for summer activities.
“We had maintained hope for a conclusion to our state basketball championships and a modified spring sports season to help return a sense of normalcy to our communities,” Tucker said. “Now, as we continue to deal with this difficult time, we must do so by applying the lessons that education-based athletics teaches us: cooperation, patience, sacrifice, responsibility, perseverance and resilience.”
The NCHSAA’s athletics suspension is the latest in what has been a series of official mandates for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. On March 12, the NCHSAA decided to suspend all school athletics through April 6. Just 11 days later, the suspension was extended through May 18.
On April 24, the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association (NCISAA), a group that creates athletic guidelines for 94 statewide private schools, also canceled the remainder of the high school spring sports season.
“None of the aforementioned decisions have been made lightly or without significant consultation from a variety of relevant sources,” NCISAA Executive Director Homar Ramirez said in his memorandum released on April 24. “I would especially like to thank our Board of Advisors. They have been faithfully meeting every week, passionately working on behalf of our entire association and for all student-athletes.
“No matter how much we prepare ourselves, the reality is that these are disappointing times,” Ramirez continued. “Our hope is that your community is healthy and safe and we look forward to making plans for the future.”