N.C. High School Athletic Association Commissioner Que Tucker announced at the association’s annual meeting on Thursday that the association is delaying the realignment process by one year in order to pursue a fifth class.
During an address to the membership, Tucker said the board of directors will work on plans that includes 1A, 2A, 3A, 4A and 4AA classes. Right now, the board cannot work on a 5A class because the bylaws require the association operate with four classes. The 4AA class would be a subdivision of the 4A class.
This fall, the NCHSAA board of directors plans to receive an amendment proposal that would allow the NCHSAA to add a 5A class. That proposal would be voted on next spring by the entire membership and results announced at the annual meeting in May. In order to pass, three-fourths of the membership must support it — which is approximately 313 schools.
“When the committee is appointed, they have to come in and work off the fact that there are four classifications,” Tucker told HighSchoolOT.com after the meeting. “Just as we’ve been dividing football championships, we’ll have them work with the idea that we would subdivide the 4A, which essentially, if the bylaws are truly changed, then that would become the 5A classification.”
Tucker said all options are on the table right now. The board of directors will meet in December to discuss the specifics, such as how to divide the teams into classifications and how often realignment may occur. None of those details have been worked out because the board must approve them.
If new bylaws are passed next spring, the board of directors would begin working on a realignment plan that would be distributed no later than March 2021. The new realignment plan would take effect Aug. 1, 2021.
“What this also does is, it allows us to pull the numbers closer to when the alignment actually becomes effective, so we’ll pull numbers in 2020 and it’ll be 2021 when we start the new process,” Tucker said.
Tucker said there would be opportunities for the membership to express its opinions on the new realignment process. She said the board of directors would likely look at sample alignments using numbers from this fall, allowing the board to see examples of any process it might adopt.
“That’s the purpose of the delay. The membership said they wanted it,” said Tucker.
One possible problem for schools is that it gives new conferences less time to plan and schools less time to schedule. The last year of an alignment period, also called a “lame duck year” by the NCHSAA, gives schools a full year to plan for the new alignment and plan out schedules. That work would need to be done in a matter of months, between March 20201 and August 2021.
“That would mean that they would have March, April, May and perhaps June to organize, get a schedule going, and then be ready to hit the ground running,” Tucker said.
Football has had subdivided playoffs for many years, meaning there are eight state championships. Tucker said that may change with the new realignment process.
“The board has to approve, but as they’ve just kind of talked to arrive at this point, I think that once we would get to that point it would be five championships. Period,” she said.
The next NCHSAA board of directors meeting is scheduled for December and realignment is expected to be a major topic of discussion.