CHAPEL HILL — The Board of Directors of the N.C. High School Athletic Association held a meeting Wednesday with topics that would not have been considered decades ago.
The board passed a rule that a student’s gender is the gender that is listed on the birth certificate. The rule addresses transgender issues that have been discussed at other state associations.
A coach who coaches in a game without taking a concussion awareness class will be fined $500 per game. A newly hired coach or a non-faculty coach also will face a $500 fine if coaching in a game before taking the National Federation of State High School Association’s Fundamentals of Coaching class.
The board also eliminated the NCHSAA’s long-standing class attendance requirements. The NCHSAA had required students to attend class 85 percent of the time in the previous semester to be eligible for athletics. Student’s attendance eligibility standards now will be determined by the local education agency.
“Education is changing,” said Carla Black, chairman of the NCHSAA’s Policy Committee. “We don’t want to send the message that we don’t care about attendance because we do, but we are responding to a changing landscape.”
M.D. Guthrie, principal of Wallace-Rose Hill, said, “We aren’t lowering our standards, because in most cases the LEAs already have standards as high and in some cases higher.”
Students are taught in various ways and in different settings. Students take online classes, college classes and can be tested for the mastery of courses before a semester is over.
Determining attendance is not as cut and dried as long ago.
The fines for not completing the fundamentals course reflects the NCHSAA’s emphasis on coaching education. The fine for the concussion course is in response to the need to keep students safe.
“It is a health and safety issue,” said Davis Whitfield, the NCHSAA commissioner. “It is so important that the course is required.”
Sportsmanship is another hot topic and the NCHSAA passed “mercy rules” in basketball and football. If a football team leads by 42 or more points during the second half, a running clock, which doesn’t stop for incompletions or going out of bounds, for example, is mandatory.
A running clock now is mandatory in basketball if the lead reaches 40 points during the second half.
Football and basketball games may be stopped if one team has the required lead and both coaches are agreeable.
The NCHSAA now has mercy rules in most team sports except lacrosse and volleyball.
Davis said the meeting had a full agenda – the sports committee discussed 25 potential motions – but no earth-shaking items.
In other board actions:
• Schools will be able to keep $1 from every pregame ticket sold at their school for football or basketball championships. The change will prevent an inequity that occurred last year when one finalist sold 1,000 pregame tickets and the other sold 300. The schools shared equally in game proceeds.
• The pod playoff system was eliminated from the 1A classification, the only level that still used the seeding process that clustered teams geographically for the playoffs.
A majority of the limited number of 1A schools that responded to an NCHSAA survey asked to drop the pod.
The pod limited travel. Some schools east of Interstate 85 now might end up in the Western bracket and make playoff trips to the mountains.
• The board took no action on a proposal to allow full squad skill development football sessions for 10 days during the spring. The proposal is expected to be discussed during the meeting in December.
• The board deferred action on changes in the basketball playoffs. The Western Regional has been in Greensboro in recent years but cannot be there next year.
The contract the NCHSAA has with Fayetteville to be the home of the Eastern Regionals has expired.
The board is considering changing the regional format.
• The NCHSAA ejection policy notification process was refined. Officials must file ejection reports to regional supervisors. A series of email notifications will go to athletics directors to make sure the school knows a player has been ejected.
• The board approved a $1 million renovation loan for the NCHSAA headquarters. The NCHSAA staff is expected to leave the building June 9-12 and construction begin.
The renovation is expected to take eight months or more.
The original NCHSAA building was completed in 1976 and a wing was added in 1994.