The N.C. High School Athletic Association board of directors has voted to allow Cardinal Gibbons to move to the 4A classification beginning next fall and to allow high school football coaches a 10-day period of skill development with their teams beginning next May.
The enrollment at Gibbons, which won five state 3A high school sports championships this fall, has grown to 4A size since the last alignment two years ago. The school asked to move from 3A to 4A and the board voted 12-5 to allow the move in the middle of the current four-year alignment of schools into classification and conferences.
Cardinal Gibbons is expected to be added to the Piedmont Athletics Conference – the PAC-6, which includes East Chapel Hill, Durham’s 4A high schools, and Roxboro Person.
“Cardinal Gibbons would be a good addition to the PAC-6,” East Chapel Hill Athletics Director Ray Hartsfield said recently. “They’re competitive in most sports, much like we are.”
Meeting last week in Chapel Hill, the NCHSAA board also approved creation of a 10-day period for off-season football skill development sessions in May and immediately eliminated all other out-of-season football skill development sessions.
The board also denied a request from the state’s cross country and track coaches to create a separate state championship for adaptive athletes. Points scored by athletes in wheelchairs helped Winston-Salem Mount Tabor win the state 4A outdoor track title in 2014.
Beginning Aug. 1, 2017, every NCHSAA head coach and all paid coaches must be certified in CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and AED (automated external defibrillator).
Davis Whitfield, the executive director of the NCHSAA, said Gibbons based its appeal on an enrollment growth, not the success of its athletic programs.
“It is growing steadily and has a 4A enrollment now,” Davis said.
But the Crusaders have been extraordinarily successful in athletics. Principal Jason Curtis recently said the non-boarding parochial school has an unusually high rate of participation among its students.
“We are really excited for the opportunities to have new relationships with the schools in the PAC-6 and continue our relations with the Big Eight schools,” Curtis said Thursday. “To us, the move to 4A is about creating new opportunities for our students.”
The Crusaders won state 3A championships in boys’ cross country, girls’ cross country, boys’ soccer, girls’ tennis, girls’ golf and girls’ volleyball this fall. The school has won 50 NCHSAA 2A and 3A state titles since moving to the N.C. Independent School Athletic Association.
In 2012, the member schools voted 235 to 50 in favor of a motion to expel Gibbons, Charlotte Catholic (39 state titles in the past 10 years), and Kernersville Bishop McGuinness (15), plus new member Huntersville Christ the King, the non-boarding parochial schools.
The measure needed a three-fourths majority, 293 votes, to pass.
Beginning this week, coaches will not be allowed to have football skill development sessions until the 10-day period near the end of the school year. Coaches can continue to have players in weight lifting and conditioning, but skill development is banned.
“If there is a ball on the field, it is illegal,” Whitfield said.
Schools now may hold skill development sessions throughout the school year, but coaches cannot work with more than 21 players in a day.
The 10-day period is scheduled to begin on the 165th day of the school year and must be concluded by the 175th day. The workouts can be no longer than 2 1/2 hours.