Location set for NC high school basketball championships — and they’ll remain central

Basketball was a major topic of discussion on Day 2 of the N.C. High School Athletic Association’s annual spring board of directors meeting in Chapel Hill.

After approving a major change to the state’s classification model Tuesday — which will place the state’s largest 32 schools into an 8A class — the board unanimously voted to bring back the NCHSAA’s boys’ and girls’ regional and state championship basketball tournaments to Lawrence Joel Coliseum in Winston-Salem.

For the first time, in March, the state held its regional and state championships in one week and in one location. NCHSAA officials and board members said the response was overwhelmingly positive, with one board member saying that continuing the event at Joel Coliseum comes with a cost, “but was well worth it.”

After approving a second year in that location, however, the board got into a lengthy discussion around non-football playing schools and their basketball schedules.

Current rules allow schools without football teams to play an additional six games to help earn revenue since they don’t have football. But there has been concern from member schools about those schools having more games count towards their RPI ratings for the postseason as well as competitive concerns due to them starting practice earlier than rivals and playing games earlier.

The board spent a good amount of time going through those issues, but ultimately voted 14-2 to allow non-football playing schools to start basketball practice Oct. 23 and to begin play Nov. 4.

Prior to that vote, practice for all teams would’ve started Oct. 30 with the first games on Nov. 8 for non-football playing schools and Nov. 15 for the rest.

The NCHSAA’s sports committee made the calendar change recommendation, saying that the current sports calendar doesn’t allow non-football playing schools enough days to play the six additional games before football playing schools begin their seasons.

Finally, an additional motion was voted through to not allow the additional six games played by non-football playing schools count towards their RPI playoff rankings. Board members felt this would allow all teams to have their RPI ranking based on the same number of games. That motion passed 15-1.

In other actions, the board:

Voted unanimously to increase fees paid to officials to work junior varsity football games to match those for varsity games. Previously, some officials were skipping junior varsity football to work varsity games in sports like volleyball, which paid more.

Voted unanimously to increase the number of officials for baseball and softball games, beginning in the third round of the playoffs, to match the number used in state finals. Currently, that’s a three-person crew for softball and four for baseball. Most other sports already do this.

Football, for example, goes from five to seven officials at the start of the third round.

Tabled a recommendation to use body cams on basketball officials to help deal with poor sportsmanship. This was due to questions around legality, cost and implementation. A potential pilot program for the body cams in North Carolina will continue to be studied.

Voted 16-0 to require school athletic directors to complete an after-school security course before July 31 or within 30 days of being hired. This change came after NCHSAA officials have seen an increase of violence and aggressive behavior at games as well as concerns around court storming.

Voted unanimously to approve the transfer of remaining NCHSAA endowment funds to the NCHSAA Foundation, an entity designated to manage those funds.

Voted unanimously to change the percentage of ticket sales the association retains during the playoffs. Commissioner Que Tucker said that schools would still keep the largest percentage of funds in each round. A committee making the recommendation said the association was projecting a $12,000 loss without the changes.

Beginning next fall, the association will keep the following percentage of playoff ticket sales: Rounds 1 and 2 (15%), Round 3 (20%), Rounds 4 and 5 (25) and state finals (33%).