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CHAPEL HILL — During its December 2, 2021, meeting, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s Board of Directors moved on multiple issues as it deals with the current pandemic climate in high school athletics, as well as looks ahead toward the 2022-23 school athletic year.

The board approved its 2021-22 budget, which includes an estimated $1.2 million deficit. For the association, marking a second-consecutive year that the organization has worked with a negative annual operating budget, impacting operational and program reserves. Despite the shortfall, the board noted that the association is in a stable financial position at the current time and is able to incur some of the expenses from member schools as the association continues to negotiate the impacts felt during the shortened 2020-21 seasons that were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.The board also approved its 2022-23 sports calendar, with the understanding that schools will be responsible for the $100 annual school fee following the waiving of such fees during the 2021-22 school year. The fee waiver for the current sports year is in addition to the board’s commitment to take on the catastrophic insurance premiums for all member schools for the current year. The board also noted that as a result of House Bill 91’s approval which is set to reconfigure the current structure of the NCHSAA, schools should prepare to reassume responsibility for catastrophic insurance premiums beginning with the 2022-23 school year, which is purchased from the North Carolina Department of Insurance.

Also approved by the NCHSAA Board of Directors was the insertion of a provision in its playoff qualification process referred to as a “leapfrog” provision. The act, effective immediately with the current winter sports seasons, was approved following feedback from member schools’ coaches and athletic directors following the qualification and seeding process for bracketed sports during the most recent fall athletic playoffs. The provision denotes that although teams with higher RPI ratings will still have higher seeding for state playoff bracketing, they may not qualify before a team that finished ahead of them in their conference standings. Additionally, the board moved for a rule that any student missing five or more consecutive days of practice for illness or injury must practice for three separate days prior to a return to competition. This item clarifies the current policy and will allow students missing practice for reasons other than illness or injury, such as a funeral, etc. to return without the three-day practice requirement. This provision is effective immediately.

A pair of items were discussed by the board at the meeting without action taken. One issue was the use of a shot clock in boys and girls basketball, including the feedback received from a survey of basketball coaches, athletic directors and principals. With mixed results from the survey, the board took no action but directed staff to continue seeking feedback from member schools on the possible implementation of a shot clock in the coming years. In addition, the board tabled a recommendation from the NC Basketball Coaches Association that would allow a “fifth quarter” of participation in a single day for ninth- and 10th-grade student athletes. The board tabled the matter pending additional input from the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee and will be reevaluated when the board of directors reconvenes for its spring meeting.

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