NCHSAA drops the football pod

tstevens@newsobserver.comDecember 7, 2012 

— The N.C. High School Athletic Association will continue to use the pod football playoff system only in the 1A and 1AA bracket during the next two years.

The NCHSAA board voted Thursday during its annual winter meetings to return to a seeded playoff system for football in the 2A, 2AA, 3A, 3AA, 4A and 4AA bracket next fall.

The pod system clumped playoff qualifiers into geographical regions. The result was that teams from the same conference often played each other in the first or second rounds.

The N.C. Football Coaches Association initially endorsed the pod system, according to NCHSAA associate commissioner Rick Strunk, but the coaches group had requested the pod system be dropped.

The pod was embraced as a cost-cutting method and the pod did cut down on travel, but coaches quickly grew disenchanted with it because of regular-season rematches.

This year, for example, the Cap Eight 4A’s Wake Forest-Rolesville and Wake Forest played each other in the first round.

“The pod system did exactly what it was designed to do and was successful,” said Davis Whitfield, the NCHSAA commissioner. “But we want our membership to know that we are listening and are responsive.”

The pod was retained in 1A and 1AA because the NCHSAA’s smallest schools are generally at opposite ends of the state. In the past, some schools in Eastern North Carolina, such as Hobbton, have been aligned in the Western bracket and would play schools such as Cherokee in the early rounds. The pod prevented that.

Dead period: The board also approved two mandatory dead periods during the summer when teams can not practice or meet.

Teams may not have workouts, lift weights or meet during the week of July 4 or during the week of the N.C. Coaches Association meetings, usually around the third week in July.

“This will allow our students to have time with their families and allow our coaches to have time away, too,” Whitfield said.

Amendment change: The NCHSAA membership will vote on changing the notice needed before voting on bylaw changes. Currently, six member schools can request a vote on a bylaw change 20 days before the annual meeting in the spring. The change would move the deadline for requesting a vote to Nov. 1.

Last spring, six schools requested a vote on a bylaw change to exclude nonboarding parochial schools about 20 days before the annual meeting.

The motion did not receive the three-fourths majority needed to pass, but the board believes more time is needed to discuss bylaw changes before a vote.

The Nov. 1 deadline also would allow the NCHSAA board to discuss any proposed changes at its winter meeting.

Other action: The board voted to move the first two rounds of baseball and softball playoffs from Tuesday and Friday to Wednesday and Saturday.

• Game officials will receive a 10 percent pay raise beginning in the 2014-15 school year.

• The board approved the 2013-14 state playoff schedule. Fall sports practice will begin on Aug. 1 with the first contests on the week of Aug. 19. The first football playing date for most schools will be Aug. 23. The state football championship games will be Dec. 13-14.

• The N.C. Baseball Coaches Association asked that the state finals best-of-3 series be held over three days instead of two, but the request was denied.

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