The last motion at Thursday’s N.C. High School Athletic Association board of directors winter meeting was the most important, as the board voted to make Que Tucker the next NCHSAA commissioner, removing the interim tag from the title she’s held since the beginning of the summer.
“I never set out to be in that chair. When I came to the association it was to start the student services program and I would have been content to stay there,” Tucker said. “
Tucker, who has been at the NCHSAA since 1991, was approved for a four-year contract. She is the second black woman to lead a state high school association. The first was Rhonda Blanford-Green in Nebraska, but she stepped down in June and now works with the Louisiana association.
She’s also the second Reidsville native to serve in the top role, in addition to L.J. “Hap” Perry.
“The board recognized that it had a tremendous person already in the role, already doing the role and doing it quite well. I felt like at this point in time, for us an association, there was no need to go through a formal process before officially naming her as the permanent commissioner,” said Maurice Green, the superintendent of Guilford County Schools and president of the board of directors.
Tucker was a coach at Reidsville High before joining coach Kay Yow’s women’s basketball staff at N.C. State. She left that post to join the NCHSAA.
She is the fifth full-time commissioner or executive director in the NCHSAA, replacing Davis Whitfield. Whitfield was the commissioner from 2010-2015 until taking a job with the National Federation of High Schools. Perry, who served from 1948-66, was the first.
The vote to approve Tucker was 16-1, and lone dissenter was Sandy George, the principal at Mount Airy High School. Green said the vote was cast in opposition to the hiring process, not Tucker.
Tucker’s first order of business is to find a replacement for associate commissioner of communications Rick Strunk, who is retiring this month.
“He’s left the position solid. It’s a matter of trying to find the right person to come in and build on what he’s done,” Tucker said.
Tucker will also have to hire someone to the deputy commissioner position she is leaving. Also on her plate is realignment. The first draft will be distributed to schools just before Christmas, she said.
The NCHSAA has had to change its rules on transfers and attendance in recent years to deal with changes in education and is still faced with questions about online schools, home schooled athletes and parochial schools (there was a failed vote to remove them in 2012). Growth in charter schools and finding the best concussion safety practices also loom as issues.
“What I want to be sure that we do is that we are proactive instead of reactive. I don’t want people to have to come and tell us what we need to do,” Tucker said. “That’s where we rely on our education in athletics committee, where we rely on this board, to make sure we know what those issues are.”
The board passed a measure, by a 16-1 vote, that a sports physical – or “screening” – is now good for 395 days instead of 365, but a student still needs to get one for each school year. The majority of forfeits because of expired physicals were for physicals that had been expired for just a few days, and some doctors do not allow two physicals within 365 days.
The extra 30 days give athletes a built-in “grace period” to get a new physical but still be eligible.
Skill development more flexible
The 10-day spring development period for football has become more flexible. Instead of being the 10 days before exams, schools can choose any 10 days after the school’s last spring sports team is done. Those days do not have to be in a consecutive 10-day period.
8-quarter football tweaked for rainouts
After postponed football games opened up the possibility for a junior varsity player to play in three games in just five days – two JV games and one varsity under the “8-quarter rule,” the sports medicine advisory council recommended making sure players can only be involved in two games.
“You’ve got kids who are conceivably playing too many games,” Tucker said.
Tucker also said there was discussion that will be brought up in the spring board meeting about possibly eliminating the rule altogether or limiting it to just 2A and 1A teams.
▪ A minimum stipend of $500 for each school that hosts a live televised football game by Time Warner Cable SportsChannel, and $350 for schools that host a basketball game.
▪ Cardinal Gibbons’ request to play 4A in the next realignment was approved. The Crusaders have won 4A titles in volleyball and girls golf this fall in their first year of 4A play, but were scheduled to drop to 3A in 2017. Tucker said Gibbons’ number of participating athletes, which is second in the NCHSAA, was a major factor.
▪ Two licensed athletic trainers or certified first responders are required at all summer 7-on-7 football contests that have three or more teams in attendance.
Tabled for later
▪ A number of playoff proposals were tabled because of the timing. The NCHSAA will be going to a new realignment model that splits teams into uneven groups – 20 percent in 4A, 30 in 3A, 30 in 2A and 20 in 1A – and it is impossible to determine an effect on each class until those conferences are made.
▪ National events that occur after the high school system were discussed and the board decided to look into the issue more. Currently, a team cannot play after its high school season is done.