Midtown: Sports

Cardinal Gibbons, parochial school teams remain in NCHSAA

A vote that would have removed parochial schools from N.C. High School Athletic Association competition and another that would have created a separate playoff format for charter schools each failed, NCHSAA commissioner Davis Whitfield announced Thursday.

Each vote needed three-fourths of NCHSAA members – or 293 schools – to vote in favor in order for the two amendments to pass. A wide majority of the schools voted to change the bylaws to exclude the non-boarding parochial schools, but more than a fourth of the schools did not vote.

The parochial school vote had 234 in favor of removing Cardinal Gibbons, Charlotte Catholic and Kernersville Bishop McGuinness from the association. Fifty-one schools voted to allow them to remain, while 105 did not vote.

“In reality, those votes that weren’t cast actually became votes for us, thank God for that,” said Jerry Healy, the Charlotte Catholic principal.

The charter school vote had less support, with 197 votes for and 81 against.

Although more than half of the NCHSAA’s 390 members voted to exclude the non-boarding parochial schools, Cardinal Gibbons principal Jason Curtis was happy the Crusaders will stick around.

“We are very excited to remain in the association,” he said. “We are very proud to be in the association and look forward to continuing working with the member schools.”

Commissioner Davis Whitfield revealed the vote totals during his remarks at the NCHSAA annual meeting at the University of North Carolina’s Smith Center.

Gibbons’ Curtis said he had not had time to access the voting totals, but said Gibbons would do whatever it could to be a good association member. The vote was taken after six schools in Rowan County requested the bylaw change to alter the membership to include only free public schools. The association’s bylaws require a vote on an issue if six or more member schools request a vote.

Joe Pinyan, the Salisbury athletic director and football coach, helped bring the issue to a vote and said the feelings of the membership are clear.

“I think you had an overwhelming response from the membership. The sad part is it wasn’t enough,” he said.

“We don’t have an agenda against anybody in particular. We just didn’t think it was right. 234 schools felt the same way.

“We have nothing against them. We just think everybody should have the same guidelines and play by the same rules. Until that happens, this will always be an issue.”

Whitfield said he was disappointed the issue was put to a vote rather than bringing the issue to the NCHSAA board of directors.

“Let me simply say that I am disappointed at the path this has taken,” he said.

“The board did not have the opportunity to address these matters directly. To bypass the board and have a vote on something of this magnitude that has brought, in my opinion, needless perceptions of prejudice, potential litigation and negative publicity to the NCHSAA.”

Whitfield later said in an interview that these are emotional issues at an emotional time.

“These are issues that deserve to be discussed and examined,” he said. “We are a family, and you don’t kick members of your family out, and we shouldn’t exclude members of the association without studying the issues very thoroughly and discussing our concerns.”

Whitfield said he was concerned with the way the issue was handled this time and he announced that the NCHSAA would form a committee to address how the association handles the classification of parochial and charter schools.

“Education is changing around us, and we need to address that,” Whitfield said. “There are many different types of schools today, and we need to talk about our members’ issues.”

One of the major issues involving the parochial schools is their lack of boundaries, but Whitfield said there are some public schools that don’t have defined geographical boundaries either.

Whitfield said he didn’t think the committee – which will include representatives from parochial schools, magnet schools, charter schools and other association members – would be able to meet for a specific period time and solve all of the issues.

“This is going to be an ongoing dialogue,” he said. “But we must meet and talk and work together.”

Curtis said he had not heard about the proposed committee until the meeting, but said Gibbons would be excited to participate.

“One positive thing is that vote got out into the open some things that had been talked about,” he said. “We’ll welcome the chance to talk with the other member schools. We want to be transparent and open.”