RALEIGH – The North Carolina legislature passed accountability and fair play in athletics on Wednesday, November 17. The conference report on this bill is one of many policy measures that are quickly making their way through committees as lawmakers seek to conclude a lengthy legislative session.
House Bill 91 is an effort to reform high school sports management in North Carolina amid controversy surrounding the governing body, the NC High School Athletics Association. The Senate gave final approval to the measure earlier on Wednesday, 41-7. The Senate’s seven ânoâ votes were all Democrats.
Representative John Bell, R-Wayne, is the House Majority Leader and passed the bill in the House, where it passed 71-43. In September, one of Bill’s first sponsors defended it by wearing a Richmond County high school football helmet on Senate floor.
âThis helmet represents each of our student-athletes in North Carolina,â said Senator Tom McInnis, R-Richmond. âThese are the student-athletes. These are the poor children I represent in Anson County. Friday night lights are what they live for. The Friday night lights are the reason they’re in school to begin with, if not, they might be on another less than stellar path for their future.
Under the new law, the NCHSAA would continue to regulate high school sports in North Carolina, but only if it accepts a list of reforms. The reforms would be cemented into a binding contract with the National Board of Education. The organization violently opposed the legislation.
The Carolina Journal has been reporting for months on efforts to reform high school sport. CJ wrote in detail about how we got here, and it’s not just because the NCHSAA amassed $ 41 million in assets.
Among the reforms required, the NCHSAA would not be able to pass new rules without first posting the proposed rules on its website and allowing time for public comment. The association should also comply with laws on public assemblies and laws on public records. The organization would also now be audited by the state.
NCHSAA board members should adopt ethics policies requiring them to avoid conflicts of interest and the appearance of impropriety and should ensure that the board composition reflects equal representation from each district. school.
The NCHSAA should ease the financial burden on its member schools. Schools’ annual fees would be reduced by 20% and the NCHSAA could not collect more than a third of the net profits of a state tournament. The NCHSAA handbook, rules and appeals process should be made public free of charge.
Charter and non-public schools can continue to participate in the NCHSAA, but they would have the rating increased. This provision is a huge sigh of relief for the four private member schools of NCHSAA, Bishop McGuinness, Cardinal Gibbons, Charlotte Catholic and Christ the King. These schools would have been barred from participating in the new league of public schools in the original legislation. The NCHSAA would be forced to drop a newly created formula for determining classifications and revert to the classification basis solely on the number of students in each school.
More rules and reforms included in the measure are available here, including that the NCHSAA will no longer be allowed to impose fines on high schools for violating the rules.
Opponents of the measure called it unnecessary.
“This bill attempts to solve a problem that does not exist, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association has been around since 1912,” Representative Raymond Smith, D-Wayne, said on the floor of the House Wednesday. âWhy are we getting involved in the last few amateur sports we have in North Carolina? “
After passing through both legislative chambers, the bill passes to Governor Roy Cooper for signature or veto. Cooper could also let the bill sit for 10 days, after which it would become law without his action.