By Earl Vaughan Jr.
Leaders of the N.C. High School Athletic Association held a press conference Thursday morning to refute comments by a group of North Carolina legislators. Various media outlets reported this week that the legislators were exploring claims of mismanagement of funds leveled against the NCHSAA and its office staff.
NCHSAA commissioner Que Tucker and current association President Jerry Simmons, who is also principal at New Bern High School, spoke out in strong terms to address the attacks of the legislators, who for the most part were laboring behind the scenes and not identified.
Simmons called the comments he heard disheartening, infuriating and ranging from ill-informed to wrong.
“The NCHSAA is not an organization devoid of oversight and is not lining the pockets of its staff and board members,’’ he said. “Any assertion otherwise is careless, uninformed and downright false.’’
Simmons went on to say the association’s elected board of directors, which consists of school personnel and administrators across the state, provides regular oversight of the 18-person staff in the NCHSAA office in Chapel Hill. “Members of our board regularly supervise our investments, budgets and distributions to member schools,’’ he said. He added the NCHSAA undergoes a full audit annually and a report is submitted to the board.
Simmons noted that during the COVID-19 pandemic, when schools have been severely limited by the lack of paying spectators at athletic contests, the NCHSAA is in the process of distributing $4 million among its 421 member schools by the end of the current school year.
Tucker denied accusations made by some legislators that the NCHSAA charged individual students fees to compete in regular-season and post-season contests, adding the NCHSAA has never done that.
Dues are charged to individual schools based on their enrollment, and the NCHSAA does take a percentage of the gate from postseason playoff games. But the rest of the gate money goes to the schools, and all regular-season gate proceeds are the property of the schools.
The lone exception is when the schools chose on their own to play an extra game known as an endowment game, and a fraction of the gate from that game is given to the NCHSAA endowment.
Tucker agreed with Simmons that the attacks by the legislators are ill-founded and do not accurately reflect the mission of the NCHSAA.
“When people attack the NCHSAA, they attack not only the association staff, but also the board of directors and each member school,’’ she said.