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RALEIGH — The NCHSAA Board of Directors concluded its annual spring meeting on Wednesday, April 28, at the DoubleTree Hotel in Research Triangle Park. The Board dealt with a weighty agenda and progressed toward long-time Association goals while responding to challenges experienced by member school athletic departments due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among many other important decisions, the Board passed a motion that will see the NCHSAA assume responsibility for payment of catastrophic insurance premiums for sports in which the Association offers a sanctioned championship and each member school’s cheerleading program.

“In reviewing goals set by previous Boards along with the Association’s financial position and understanding our member schools’ strained resources due to the pandemic, the Board of Directors made the decision to assume the cost of catastrophic insurance premiums as a benefit of membership in the NCHSAA,” Commissioner Que Tucker said. “This step of leadership and faith is only possible because of the visionary leaders and financial stewards who have served this Association as Board of Directors members over the course of the last 30 years or more. We are pleased to be able to make this a benefit of membership, especially during a global pandemic which has caused financial strain for many state associations and high school athletic programs across the country.”

Catastrophic insurance and finances have been a hot topic for the NC General Assembly, who initiated an investigation into the Association and met with NCHSAA leadership a couple of weeks ago. Tucker noted that the move will save member schools a combined $500,000 annually.

The Board of Directors also tackled several other items during its Spring meeting. In response to declining number of junior varsity teams, the board reached a decision to allow up to 10 athletes to use the eight-quarter rule for football participation in all four of the Association’s classes. The board also will establish an Endowment Review Committee to work with the Board’s Finance and Personnel Committee in directing the Association’s endowed investments.

Further, the Board affirmed the Association’s suspension of the endowment game concept while revising the NCHSAA’s share of playoff gate receipts in lacrosse, dual team wrestling and dual team tennis. The board adopted a Sports Medicine Advisory Committee recommendation to amend the Modified Sports Manual to follow CDC guidance stating a fully vaccinated student-athlete, coach or athletic staff member who has had direct exposure to COVID-19 does not need to quarantine or test unless they exhibit symptoms.

The group also elected to put a measure in place that will not allow teams to wear protective equipment for skill development and workouts during the week of June 28 through July 3, 2021. This decision allows a chance for the Licensed Athletic Trainers and First Responders responsible for medical coverage of any football skill development where protective equipment is being worn to have an additional week to recover from the compressed sport season.

“This Board of Directors has piloted the NCHSAA and our member schools through a very trying time with grace and vision,” Tucker added. “We are a better Association today because of their efforts and sacrifices on behalf of our member schools.”

The NCHSAA is easing some of its safety protocols, in response to the most recent guidance and latest Executive Order. The NCHSAA will follow new guidance from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services and end the mask mandate for all outdoor sports at 5 p.m. Friday, April 30. Athletes who wish to continue wearing a mask may still do so.

Outdoor athletes and coaches who are not actively participating in competition and cannot socially distance, such as when they’re on the bench, should still wear masks, while masks for officials will be optional.

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