Senate adopts HB 91 as it seeks to reform the NCHSAA |

RALEIGH – Another week means another step in the process of enacting House Bill 91.

The legislation was passed by a full Senate vote on Wednesday with a 28-14 margin on its third and final reading.

The amended version of HB 91 seeks to reform the NC High School Athletic Association rather than disband it.

Voting mainly took place along party lines.

Senator Kirk deViere (D-Cumberland) was the only Democrat to vote in favor of the bill. Seven Democrats were absent from the meeting.

All Republicans voted in favor of the bill except Senator Ted Alexander (R-Cleveland), who was absent.

The House of Representatives will then consider the bill in committee, starting with the Committee on Education.

The House could propose amendments and send it back to the Senate, but if it passes as is, it will go to Governor Roy Cooper, who will decide whether or not to sign the bill.

The legislation states that the NCHSAA will have to accept financial and administrative changes if it is to continue to play its role.

The measure calls on the association and the National Board of Education to reach a written agreement by mid-October on how the NCHSAA will implement the council’s policy on interschool sports.

Cooper was asked about HB 91 at a press conference Thursday.

“First, it is important that our high schools have sports and that they are properly regulated,” he said. “I am concerned about the bill regarding the dismantling of what is currently in place. “

If Cooper vetoed the bill, it would take three-fifths of lawmakers present to override the veto.

“I will look at this legislation. I haven’t seen the latest version of it, ”Cooper said. “I know he still has to go through the House. I will be happy to work with the legislature on this, and as the process goes, I will review it. “

Senate Republicans, previously in favor of eliminating and replacing the NCHSAA, are now seeking to keep it in place, but are demanding more transparency in its decision-making activities and adding constraints on its finances.

The non-profit association is 108 years old and oversees more than 20 varsity sports in nearly 430 member schools.

According to an Associated Press report, NCHSAA leaders have been looked down upon by Republican lawmakers, who say they have heard voters complain about what they see as the association’s strong hand on gambling calls and eligibility and financial penalties on schools, even if the group’s coffers are empty. .

The association, which started in 1913 and became an independent nonprofit in 2010, had nearly $ 42 million in assets last year.

“Members, I ask you to vote in favor of this legislation so that we can redirect our student-athletes and make them the focus and not the money-making machine that they have become,” said the Senator Vickie Sawyer, Iredell County Republican and the author of the bill, said before the vote.

A bill approved last month by the Senate Education Committee would have dissolved the NCHSAA at the end of the 2021-2022 school year and created a new state sports commission with its members chosen by the governor and chiefs legislative.

The measure was changed following complaints from Democrats and association allies that it would inject partisanship into high school sports and effectively end the NCHSAA.

The new bill emphasizes transparency.

The NCHSAA would be required to post the proposed changes to the playing and penalty rules on its website and allow public comment, and to apply and enforce the rules established by the Board of Education, which would have the power to consider any rule proposed by the NCHSAA inapplicable.

It would also require the association to comply with open records and open meeting laws and apply federal standards of confidentiality to student records, adopt an internal ethics policy that “(would require) board members to administration avoid conflicts of interest and the appearance of impropriety, ”and submit to an annual audit by the North Carolina State Auditor.

Finances are also at the heart of legislation.

The NCHSAA would be prohibited from charging unreasonable fees and would be required to reduce the annual fees of member schools by at least 20%, if the association’s fund balance reached 250% of its previous year’s expenditure, and he would be prohibited from holding more than 33% of the net proceeds of all state tournaments.

It would also be prohibited to solicit grants or sponsorships for anything other than state tournaments, and to regulate or control the intellectual property of schools, including team logos, mascots, and audio or video. games outside of state tournaments, and prohibits the designation of preferred suppliers from which member schools may purchase equipment.

Sponsors of the bill have previously said they have heard schools say they cannot afford the costs of equipment from the association’s preferred vendors.

The legislation also deals with the classification of schools in the association.

This would allow charter and non-public schools to continue participating in the NCHSAA, but these athletic programs would increase rankings.

All classifications would be determined based solely on registrations. The bill states that four classifications would be used, which NCHSAA members have attempted to change in recent years as the number of member schools continues to grow.

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