Big move in basketball: Final Four format for girls and boys at one site
By CHRIS HOBBS
CHAPEL HILL — In one of the most detailed and quickly-developed recounts of actions at a North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) meeting in the organization’s history, the group has posted to its website a video from Commissioner Que Tucker.
The video highlights decisions by the board of directors at the association’s Spring meetings this week, which include adoption of moving girls’ and boys’ basketball to Final Four formats.
Under the new plan, once the postseason reaches the regional level all of the teams will advance to one site to be determined site. There will be games there over six days that will culminate with state championship games.
The move comes after complications at least year’s later rounds that included some fans holding tickets that did not get into games and, in general, addresses what has been a growing problem in the late stages of the postseason — location capacity.
It is a return, at least somewhat, to a format the state used even as late as the late 1970s, before it formulated its West and East Regional brackets.
The first West Regionals were in 1981. Before that, the final eight teams alive were brought to different sites and played through to state championships.
Locally, for instance, the Bandys boys played state 3A tournament games (three of them) at Durham High in 1975-1976 and in 2A tournament games at Winston-Salem Reynolds High in 1978-79 and 1979-80.
In 1979-1980, the Trojans’ girls were part of an eight-team bracket playing for a state 2A title at Union Pines High, and the 1976-1977 field for the 3A girls’ title was played at Hickory High.
Tucker outlined some aspects of how the NCHSAA has dealt with adhering to the conditions set forth in an MOU (memorandum of understanding) the organization signed with the State Board of Education. The MOU was developed to address concerns expressed by the N.C. Legislature, which had passed a bill that was originally designed to disband the NCHSAA.
That MOU, in place about a year now, was for four years.But there’s another state bill (636) pushing for additional restrictions on the NCHSAA staff (has passed the N.C. Senate and is now the House). There’s also a push to allow the State Superintendent to void the current MOU at any time after giving a six-month notice.
Tucker, who has expressed concerns about the MOU in general, was upbeat in the video and outlined for her member schools what could be ahead. The current bill would have state government more heavily involved in day-to-day operations of overseeing high school athletics in the state.
An example: When the NCHSAA board voted 18-0 to allow student-athletes to participate in an NIL (Name, Image and Likeness) and earn money from an agreement, the N.C. Senate said “no” and told NCHSAA officials they were overstepping their authority.
As Tucker stressed, the member schools could end up without as much say as they have traditionally had in self-governing high school athletics.
Since 1913, the NCHSAA has been the sole source of regulating and working with the state’s schools (now including may charter or public schools) . It has been under fire only since 2019 when the state legislature launched an investigation into the NCHSAA.
Some of the key things in the MOU included more transparency from the NCHSAA and included a requirement of live streaming the organization’s meetings.
In the past, it would be uncharacteristic for an NCHSAA commissioner — and more specifically often media-guarded Tucker — to provide an on-the-website recap of nearly 38 minutes.
The NCHSAA has traditionally allowed media attendance at any of its meetings and provided a press conference thereafter. That started in the mid-1980s.
TUCKER’S UPDATE: https://www.nchsaa.org/news/2023-5-4/recording-2023-annual-meeting