North Carolina lawmakers launch state high school association investigation

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NC High School Athletic Association commissioner Que Tucker was asked by lawmakers on Thursday about the association’s origin and finances.

After the two-hour and 10-minute meeting, Senator Phil Berger, who co-chaired the special subcommittee, said no action would be taken on Thursday, but expected there to be future meetings to continue the investigation.

Among the highlights of the meetings:

Senator Vickie Sawyer (R-Iredell) presented research showing the NCHSAA had total assets of over $ 40 million, far more than any other state high school association. She even compared the finances of the NCHSAA favorably to those of the ACC.

Sawyer said if the NCHSAA stopped charging dues, assessing fines, receiving box office receipts and collecting interest on its $ 26.5 million endowment, it would have enough assets to operate for almost a decade.

“If I were a member school and we heard from a lot of them, that’s why we are here today, I would be very concerned about the amount of money that comes in the association’s door by report to what’s coming out, ”Sawyer said. .

Tucker gave the subcommittee a history of the association and its endowment and delved into its finances, which include an annual membership fee of $ 1 per student enrolled.

She said the association started in 1913 and became a 501C3 company in 1976. Tucker said the association started its endowment in the 1990-91 school year, claiming it was worth over 440 $ 000 the first year. She explained that the plan was to let the balance grow and use the interest, and that in 2010 the NCHSAA board decided to step up efforts to return the endowment funds to member schools. , which now number 421.

Tucker said the NCHSAA board approved the return of $ 4 million to member schools during the 2020-21 school year, which was ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic. Tucker said that in the last pandemic-free years, the association has returned an average of $ 1.3 million to $ 1.4 million to its schools, adding that a new formula will be used for the next four school years in order to ensure that the schools most in need receive a larger share.

Rep. John Bell (R-Wayne) asked what he called a competitive imbalance in 1A athletics, which is currently dominated by charter schools. Bell believes that charters, which can draw on multiple counties within a 25-mile radius of campus, have an inherent advantage over 1A schools, which have a defined geographic region.

Tucker said it was difficult to find something fair for both teams, but added that a new formula for determining playoff eligibility could help resolve 1A issues in the next realignment, which begins. in autumn.

“We are keenly aware of the concerns of our more traditional schools with our charter schools,” Tucker said. “We have convened, on several occasions, a committee of non-traditional schools to try to respond to the concerns of traditional schools. … I believe in the next round of realignment we might see some of it adjusted by some criteria that have been put in place. Some charter schools that are 1A (will now be) moved to 2A (playoffs). ”

Towards the end of the meeting, Senator Paul Newton (R-Cabarrus) told Tucker he thought it was “some belief” that there was an imbalance between the amount of money available to the association and the good it could potentially do for its members. establishments.

Tucker said it would be a priority as the NCHSAA prepares for its May annual board meeting.

“In my wildest dreams,” Tucker said, “I never thought I’d be sitting in front of you trying to defend why we have the money,” she said. “But we talked about the fact that one of the things we want to do is hear from you and share with you what we’re trying to do, and then when we hear you sharing with us – is that we grow and that we go back and in two weeks when our board comes into place, then we can start having this discussion (about potential financial changes) and put (things) in place where we can do even more than we do. Have done.

Following the meeting, Tucker released the following statement to the media: “We want to thank the members of the General Assembly committee for the opportunity to discuss high school athletics in North Carolina. It has been a rewarding experience, and we appreciate hearing the concerns of legislators and an open dialogue about our Association. We believe we have achieved our goal of better informing legislators about our mission, vision and values. We look forward to continuing this dialogue in the weeks to come.

Langston Wertz Jr. is an award-winning sports journalist who has worked at The Observer since 1988. He’s covered everything from Final Fours and the NFL to video games and Britney Spears. Wertz – a graduate of West Charlotte High and UNC – is the rare person who can answer “Charlotte” when you ask “What city are you from.”
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