A controversial system-wide vote to remove three parochial schools (Cardinal Gibbons, Charlotte Catholic, and Bishop McGuinness) from the NCHSAA did not get enough votes to pass, NCHSAA commissioner Davis Whitfield announced Thursday afternoon in Chapel Hill.
The Raleigh News & Observer reported that the system-wide vote came in at 235 to 51. To pass, the vote required a 3/4ths majority of the entire NCHSAA membership, 390 schools total. Of the membership, 104 schools did not vote.
The second part of the proposal, a measure to establish separate playoff brackets for charter schools, also failed, 197-81. A total of 112 schools did not vote on that measure either. All told, more than a fourth of the NCHSAA membership did not vote in either measure, essentially dooming both.
Nonetheless, the proposal generated controversy from the outset and roiled the NCHSAA for 20 days leading up to the NCHSAA Board of Directors meting on Tuesday and Wednesday. Six Salisbury-are schools combined to propose the two measures, and due to NCHSAA bylaws stating that just six schools can force a vote on any issue, the membership had only two weeks to vote.
Speaking with reporters on Wednesday before he announced the verdict, Whitfield called the current parochial schools in the NCHSAA “model members” and voiced strong displeasure at the way the vote was handled.
“I think it’s unfortunate,” Whitfield said. “If we want to talk about the NCHSAA family, we don’t just vote one of our family members out. We don’t vote weather to invite or expel someone.” Whitfield added that he’d like to see the NCHSAA add a few more checks and balances to the process.
Local athletic directors, however, agreed that the issue of parochial shools was a pressing one. Both Laney athletic director Fred Lynch and Topsail athletic director B.J. Horne said that parochial schools, who can draw students from anywhere, have an express athletic advantage against public schools who are restricted to drawing students from their district.
Allegations that Cardinal Gibbons provided financial aid to its student-athletes furthered suspicions of recruiting, as have the continued widespread success of private school athletic programs, in particular at Cardinal Gibbons and Bishop McGuinness. In 2011-2012, Cardinal Gibbons has already won NCHSAA class 3A state championships in boys soccer, volleyball, girls and boys cross country, girls golf and boys swimming. Charlotte Catholic won a 3A state championship in girls swimming.
Whitfield said during his remarks on Thursday that the NCHSAA will form a committee to further evaluate the role of parochial schools in the NCHSAA, and that there will be a “continued dialogue,” on the issue. He urged member schools to “trust in the NCHSAA and its Board of Directors to work and make decisions on behalf of the association.