Total of fines collected over last 5 years exceeds $400,000
By CHRIS HOBBS
RALEIGH — A member of the North Carolina Legislature, which is investigating the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA), is asking the organization to refund all funds it has collected over the past 10 years via fines to schools found to have violated NCHSAA rules.
In a story written by Nick Stevens of HighSchoolOT.com — which has led reporting on the investigation launched by the state legislature — the request to refund fine monies to the schools has been sent to Chapel Hill by Sen. Tom McInnis (R-Richmond).
The report says McInnis made an inquiry of how much money the NCHSAA collected in fines over the past five years. That figure exceeded $400,000.
“This is non-professional sports,” McInnis told HighSchoolOT.com. “This is interscholastic sports. This is supposed to be a sports process with an educational application. We have student-athletes.
“I asked for the amount of penalties they had collected in the last five years and it was a little over $416,000. I went ballistic.”
The application and enforcement of rules set by the NCHSAA board of directors and how they are applied and that information is made available to the public have been at issue for several years.
HobbsDailyReport.com has raised the issue to NCHSAA Commissioner Que Tucker and other staff for several years, including as recently as in a video press conference the NCHSAA held after news broke the legislature had formed a subcommittee to investigate the organization.
When a school is found to have violated a rule — which could carry a fine and/or things like being banned from the state playoffs — the NCHSAA will not confirm:
— A rule has been violated beyond telling media it must contact the school for any details. In most if not all cases, NCHSAA staff will not confirm a school has been found in violation of a rule.
— The specific rule violated, where it can be found in order to read and report the specified handling of the rule (fines or other details).
In general, NCHSAA staff contends it has no obligation to confirm a rule has been violated because it is a private organization not subject to public record laws or the board of directors’ meetings are not subject to open meetings laws in the state.
At issue, and part of what the legislature is reviewing, is how the NCHSAA can be a private organization when it handles public monies or revenue generated by public schools.
At last report, the NCHSAA had an Endowment Fund balance of $26.1 million and its overall value, including its building, etc., is a bit more than $40 million.
HighSchoolOT.com reports a second meeting of the legislative subcommittee is scheduled next week.
In the previously mentioned press conference, Tucker responded to a question about the NCHSAA not discussing enforcement of rules set by its own board of directors by saying she will not change her policy without being told to do so by the board.
HobbsDailyReport.com recently reached out to Jerry Simmons, principal at New Bern High and president of the NCHSAA, about a request for the policy — and whether or not it is a written policy — be reviewed. That e-mail exchange was in April,
In earlier correspondence with HobbsDailyReport.com, Simmons said the board could have a discussion about that policy at its spring meeting.