The NCHSAA board made two decisions this week: extending the lacrosse season and eliminating softball bat testing.

The Board of Directors for the N.C. High School Athletic Association concluded its winter meeting on Thursday morning by making several decisions and receiving updates from various committees.

On Thursday, several actions were taken. However, the most significant development occurred on Wednesday when the board passed a proposal from the NCHSAA Realignment Ad Hoc Committee. Starting in the 2025-2026 academic year, the NCHSAA will double its number of classifications from four to eight.

The member schools of NCHSAA have recently agreed to a modification in the bylaws that will affect the number of classifications. The updated bylaw states that no more than 64 schools can be included in a classification. This means that any future realignment will have at least seven classifications.

The committee in charge of realigning stated that shifting to a seven-tier system would not leave enough space for the NCHSAA to incorporate future schools. Therefore, they suggested expanding to eight classifications.

At the board meeting, the NCHSAA received information about upcoming legislation that will impact how the association manages high school sports in the state. Although no concrete steps were taken, the board deliberated on various matters, including the requirement for the association to establish a new memorandum of understanding with the state government.

After the meeting, NCHSAA Commissioner Que Tucker announced that the upcoming basketball final four will be held at the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Winston-Salem. HighSchoolOT had previously stated that this location was chosen for the semifinals and finals of the basketball playoffs.

Tucker declared that Assistant Commissioner Tra Waters will be departing the organization in December after nearly 20 years of service with the NCHSAA. On the other hand, former NCHSAA Associate Commissioner Mark Dreibelbis will be rejoining on a part-time basis in January to assist with the responsibilities of the open Director of Officiating role.

The board will convene once more in the spring of 2024 to further discuss realignment and the new laws.

The board of directors made the following decisions this week:

The policy for testing softball bats has been removed.

In previous gatherings, the NCHSAA Board of Directors had implemented a policy for testing bats in the upcoming softball season. However, this policy has now been removed following a unanimous decision by the board.

During the spring meeting this year, the board passed a policy stating that softball bats must pass at least two out of three tests in order to be considered legal. If a bat is approved, it will receive a sticker from the bat tester. Any bat used at the state championship without a sticker will need to be tested on site.

The NCHSAA has received numerous concerns from schools regarding the policy. Following discussions with other state associations and a survey of member schools, the board of directors has chosen to eliminate the policy.

Based on the findings of the survey, 73% of the participating schools do not perceive the use of illegal bats as an issue in high school softball in North Carolina.

The duration of the lacrosse season will be prolonged by a period of two weeks.

Upon the request of the N.C. Lacrosse Coaches Association, the board has approved a two-week extension to the regular season for both boys and girls lacrosse, starting with the 2025 spring season.

Extending the regular season for lacrosse aligns it with other spring sports that also have 24-game regular seasons, such as girls soccer, softball, and baseball.

Although lacrosse has the potential to play 24 games during a regular season, it has been shortened by two weeks compared to other sports. As a result, many lacrosse teams are forced to play three games per week, limiting the time available for practice and recovery for players. This has also presented difficulties for schools in rescheduling postponed games.

The NCLCA originally planned to implement the change by spring 2024, but the board decided to delay it until the 2024-2025 academic year.

Simplifying the process of assigning fees to basketball officials

The board has unanimously decided to simplify the process of assigning fees for basketball officials, which will take effect immediately.

The board has approved a change in the assigning fees paid to the regional supervisor, as per the Big East Conference’s request. Instead of charging four separate fees for the same officials when schools host a quad, they will now be charged $150 for varsity officials and $100 for junior varsity officials.

The Big East Conference recommended that schools should not have to pay a fee of $450-$640 to a regional supervisor, as it is a significant cost. This is particularly true when considering that the admission fee for contests at that location grants spectators access to all games played.

Furthermore, the board has made the decision to reiterate the rule that officials should not be paid more than the standard fee for regular season, single-game contests by their regional supervisor. The NCHSAA has reported that certain regional supervisors are violating this policy. This change is also applicable immediately.

Additional measures implemented by the board

  • Adopted changes to the formula for determining berths to the individual tennis regional tournament, as proposed by the N.C. High School Tennis Coaches Association. It will be effective for the 2024-2025 school year.
  • The board has approved a request to allow different match formats for dual-team tennis matches in the regular season. With mutual consent, coaches may use eight or ten game pro-sets for singles matches, and/or use no-ad scoring for both singles and doubles matches. This rule will go into effect in the spring of 2024.

  • The sports calendar for 2024-2025 has been approved, with revisions made to the regular season schedule for lacrosse.

  • The board has approved revisions to the penalty code, resulting in tougher penalties for infractions related to the well-being of players or state laws.

  • The audit report for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2023 has been approved. On Wednesday, Blackman & Sloop presented the report to the board.
  • The 2023-2024 operating budget was approved with acknowledgement of an estimated budget shortfall exceeding $800,000.