New law changes how North Carolina governs prep sports

Gov. Roy Cooper

A bill changing how middle-and high-school sports are governed was signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Roy Cooper.

Beginning next school year, House Bill 91 allows the State Board of Education (SBE) to enter into a four-year contract with NC High School Athletic Association or another nonprofit to manage middle-and high-school athletics.

The NCHSAA is likely to continue to regulate the state’s high school sports provided it agrees to new reforms to ensure accountability and increase transparency.

The NCHSAA had pushed back against earlier versions of the bill that would have effectively ended its governance of high school athletics.

The NCHSAA tabled opposition to HB 91 after several bill revisions and being “assured” by the SBE that it will work with the NCHSAA to adopt a memorandum of understanding to allow it to continue to oversee prep sports.

“Considering the changes to the legislation, and assurances that the State Board of Education will partner with the NCHSAA so that we can continue to serve our member schools, the Board of Directors of the NCHSAA does not oppose the passage of House Bill 91 as revised,” Bobby Wilkins, president of the NCHSAA Board of Directors said in a Nov. 16 statement.

The statement came after the House and Senate had approved the bill.

Sill, Wilkins, and the board contend the legislation isn’t needed.

“Although we continued to believe that legislation was unnecessary, we advocated for changes to the legislation that would best serve the needs of student-athletes,” Wilkins said.

HB 91 grew out of a review of NCHSAA finances by Republicans members of the General Assembly. The lawmakers found the organization has amassed more than $41 million in assets while continuing to collect fees from school districts. They also expressed concerns about accountability and oversight of the private nonprofit.

The SBE will set rules for eligibility, gameplay, health and safety, appeals, administration, fees, and other items under the new law. The board will have the authority to delegate rule-making requirements to a non-profit but override any such rules with a simple majority vote.

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