(9-5-21) The amended version of North Carolina House Bill 91, which looks to reform the N.C. High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) instead of dissolving it, continues to move forward thru the legislation process.

From July 2021 – NC senator speaks on NCHSAA bill proposal (WCNC-TV You Tube Video)

The NC Senate gave initial approval to HB 91 this past Wednesday, but it will still have to pass a full vote this week before heading back to the House. Should it pass in the House, it will go to the desk of Gov. Roy Cooper for his signature or veto.

HB 91 is unanimously supported by Senate Republicans and opposed by the NCHSAA and many Democratic Senators, although five out of the 22 voting to approve the bill.

The legislation states that the association will have to accept financial and administrative changes if it wants to continue in its role.

The measure instructs the NCHSAA and the State Board of Education to come up with a written agreement by mid-October on how the association will carry out board policy on interscholastic sports.

Proposed Changes

The NCHSAA would be required to publish proposed changes to game-play and penalty rules on its website and allow for public comment, and apply and enforce rules set by the board of education, which would have the authority to deem any rule proposed by the NCHSAA unenforceable.

It would also require the association to comply with open records and public meetings laws and apply federal privacy standards to student records, adopt an internal ethics policy that would “(require) board members to avoid conflicts of interests and the appearance of impropriety,” and submit to an annual audit by the North Carolina state auditor.

Finances

The NCHSAA (had $42 million in assets as of last year) would be prohibited from charging unreasonable fees and required to reduce annual fees for member schools by at least 20% if the association’s fund balance reaches 250% of its expenses from the previous year, and prohibited from retaining more than 33% of the net proceeds from any state tournament games.

It would also be prohibited from soliciting grant funding or sponsorships for anything other than state tournaments, and prohibited from regulating or controlling the intellectual property of schools, including team logos, mascots and the audio or video of games outside state tournaments, and prohibited from designating preferred vendors for member schools to purchase equipment from.

Classification of Schools

It would allow charter and non-public schools to continue participating in the NCHSAA, but those athletic programs would bump up a classification.

All classifications would be determined based solely on enrollment. The bill states that four classifications would be used, which is something the NCHSAA membership has attempted to change in recent years as the number of member schools continues to grow.

NCHSAA August 29th Special Board Meeting

BACKGROUND

What started as complaints from upset parents to a Senator’s office has now become a bill that passed the Senate floor this week. Three Senate Republicans led two oversight committees earlier this year to investigate the finances and operations of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association, which is the organization governing high school sports in the state. Out of the committees came House Bill 91. The bill originally would have disbanded the relationship between public and charter schools and the NCHSAA completely, but after school athletic directors and officials voiced opposition, Senators revised the bill. The version that passed the Senate floor Wednesday would require the NCHSAA and the State Board of Education to come up with a written memorandum of understanding on how the organization will carry out board policy on interscholastic sports. The memorandum would enforce the notion that the NCHSAA is a public body which is bound to public records and open meeting laws. The ability for the association to assess fees on member schools would be controlled, and any fees would be subject to appeal by an independent panel. Lastly, in response to a complaint by Sen. Vickie Sawyer (R-Iredell) who said the oversight committees heard from schools and parents who were fined for livestreaming games during the pandemic, the memorandum would prohibit the restriction on athletes’ parents being able to record games.

The NCHSAA leaders do not support the bill and said they have already complied with reforms requested by the Senators. Five Democrats joined all Republicans Wednesday to vote for the bill. There was an objection to third reading, meaning the Senate must wait to consider the bill for a final voice vote when it next convenes.

NOTE: The North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association (NCISAA) oversees independent schools throughout the state of North Carolina who desired the opportunity to compete for state championships in various sports. This bill will not affect them.