High schools

NCHSAA board will consider action on non-traditional schools

November 30, 2012 

The board of directors of the N.C. High School Athletic Association is expected to discuss non-traditional schools and student transfers during its annual winter meeting next week in Chapel Hill.

Davis Whitfield, the NCHSAA commissioner, appointed a committee to bring recommendations to the board considering non-traditional schools.

Last spring, a group of NCHSAA member schools requested the membership vote on ousting its three non-boarding parochial schools – Charlotte Catholic, Cardinal Gibbons and Kernersville Bishop McGuinness.

A majority of schools voted to exclude the three schools from the 396-school association, but the motion failed because the move needed a three-fourths majority to pass.

The three Catholic schools win a disproportionate number of NCHSAA state championships. The schools have won at least 63 NCHSAA titles in the past eight seasons.

Other state associations have faced similar situations.

Bobby Cox, the executive director of the Indiana High School Athletic Association, told High School Today magazine that private schools make up 14 percent of the IHSAA membership and win 40 percent of state titles.

The same article noted that in Ohio, private schools make up 16 percent of the membership but have won 70 percent of the titles. Georgia recently expanded from five divisions to six after non-public schools won 26 of 28 state titles, excluding football, wrestling and boys track, since 2008.

Bobby Guthrie, the Wake County Schools senior administrator for athletics, said the NCHSAA’s committee did a lot more in its four meetings than talk about the parochial schools, though.

“I learned a lot more than I contributed,” Guthrie said. “It was very educational. I wish every member school had the opportunity to discuss the issues like we did. Our discussion just wasn’t about winning state championships. We spent a lot of time talking about changes in education and other non-traditional schools.”

The group agreed some schools have athletic advantages over other schools. Guthrie noted that Green Hope in Wake County has won three consecutive Wells Fargo Cups, a statewide award for overall athletic success.

“Certain schools in Wake County have some advantages in some sports over other schools,” Guthrie said. “You are not going to have a perfectly level playing field.”

The committee is expected to make several recommendations to the full NCHSAA board, including the possibility of moving parochial member schools to a higher classification for the playoffs in some sports if the school has been successful in that sport.

McGuinness, for example, has won seven straight 1A girls basketball titles and Cardinal Gibbons has won the 2A or 3A state title in volleyball the past seven years.

But Guthrie said traditional schools can dominate state competition as well. Gibbons has won three straight 3A boys swimming titles, but Carrboro and Charlotte Providence have won the 1A/2A and the 4A boys swim titles three straight years, too. Enloe, a Wake County magnet school, once won nine straight boys swimming titles from 1999-2007.

“We don’t talk about kicking out other schools when they are successful,” Guthrie said.

Guthrie said he hoped the recommendations would provide a foundation to build on in the future.

“Education is changing and so are the kinds of schools we offer,” Guthrie said. “Home schools. Charter schools. Virtual schools. We are educating our children in ways that were not imagined 30 years ago.”

The board also is expected to hear recommendations about students who transfer to schools across county lines. One possibility is for transfers to be ineligible for 365 days.

Orientation will be held on Tuesday for five new NCHSAA board members – principals, superintendents and athletic directors who are starting a four-year term. Committees meet on Wednesday and board action will be on Thursday.

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