Midtown: Sports

NCHSAA approves national certification of coaches

The N.C. High School Athletic Association board of directors approved 11 items on its agenda Wednesday in its spring meeting.

The biggest decision the board made was to change the association’s policy next year and require all non-faculty coaches and newly hired coaches to take and complete the Fundamentals of Coaching course through the National Federation of State High School Associations. The board also recommended all coaches be certified within three years.

The board voted 17-4 in favor of changing the policy.

“This provides opportunities for professional development for those coaches,” said Davis Whitfield, commissioner of the NCHSAA. “I think there are always new techniques that coaches can learn.”

As of now, 43 states require high school coaches to have some sort of national certification based on a coaching education program before being hired.

North Carolina, along with Delaware, Iowa, North Dakota, Maryland, Michigan and Pennsylvania, is not among them. Whitfield said a few years ago North Carolina coaches were ranked sixth in the country when it came to the number of coaches who were taking education courses. The state’s ranking has continued to fall since then, mostly because the state doesn’t require a course. That alerted the board to take action.

“I don’t feel we’re falling behind,” Whitfield said. “This recommendation that the board has approved will support the fact that coaching education is important.”

Issues such as developing concussion awareness and that 35 percent of the state’s coaches are not faculty were other reasons the board made its decision.

“We think as a board it’s often times better to have a coach that is a teacher because they get to know the student-athletes on a more comprehensive basis,” Whitfield said. “They can make sure they are behaving well in school each and every day.”

More money to schools: Whitfield announced Thursday that the association will be returning more money to schools. The association has increased playoff travel allowances in recent years and is increasing them again, but the biggest increase in funds to schools will come from endowment fund interest income and unbudgeted income.

The NCHSAA will distribute half of the income from that year’s interest income to the schools and half of any excess income over budget to schools that play in bracketed championships, including basketball and football.

“Finances are a continuing problem for our member schools,” Whitfield said. “We cannot finance the programs at individual schools, but we can help.”

The board decided the additional income would help schools cover playoff expenses.

The NCHSAA returned $1,000 to each of its member schools last year – a $390,000 expenditure – and is returning an additional 25 cents to the schools on each playoff ticket sold.

NCHSAA vision: An NCHSAA strategic planning committee has developed a vision statement and mission statement for the NCHSAA.

The vision is to become the national model for developing and inspiring greatness through interscholastic athletic experiences. The mission statement is to provide governance and leadership for interscholastic athletic programs that support and enrich the educational experience of students.

Football schedule: The board also approved going back to a 12-week football schedule to play 11 games starting with the 2013 season. The NCHSAA will do the same for 2014.

“It provides a little bit more flexibility as it relates to one additional week to schedule,” Whitfield said.

The board also decided it would not eliminate the pod system for the playoffs since the system has successfully cut down travel for football teams during the postseason.

Sportsmanship needed: Since becoming the commissioner in 2010, Whitfield has stressed sportsmanship. Whitfield discussed the topic again as ejections and suspensions have increased in the past two years.

Whitfield said coaches need to continue teaching sportsmanship.

“We always have conversation with our coaches that sportsmanship has to be a learned behavior just like you learn to hit a baseball or shoot a basketball,” he said. “It needs to be a part of the coaches’ practice plans.”

New soccer rule: the NCHSAA also adapted a mercy rule next year for boys and girls soccer. If a team goes up by nine goals at halftime or any point in the second half, the match will end.