General Assembly creates chaos

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 4, 2006

R-C News-Herald Editorial

We’re buying Marc Basnight and Jim Black each a whistle.

The President Pro Tempore of the North Carolina Senate and Speaker of the NC House respectively probably need them since their legislative bodies have decided to become part of high school athletics.

Last week the North Carolina General Assembly passed legislation allowing six small schools in five northeastern North Carolina counties to leave their respective leagues and form their own conference.

Those schools – Bear Grass, Jamesville, Cape Hatteras, Columbia, Creswell and Mattamuskeet – can now compete in their own league, if they so choose, leaving the other nine schools in the two leagues they were a part of to figure out their own system.

Despite being urged by this newspaper not to, State Senator Robert Holloman (D-4th) voted for the measure along with almost every other state politician except Martin County Representative Edith Warren.

Rep. Warren should be applauded for finding out that two of her schools – Williamston and Roanoke – would be negatively affected by the decision and making a stand. We could only have hoped that, rather than listening to the bill sponsor, Sen. Holloman would have done the same type of research.

We can’t say for sure what Gates County’s representative in the House, Rep. Howard Hunter Jr., would have done. He was excused from the vote.

Gates County High School will survive, as will Williamston, Roanoke, Manteo, Plymouth, Camden, Perquimans, Northside and Southside. The problem is that now these schools will spend a ridiculous amount of money to drive past the smaller schools to play games in their conference.

Did Representative Timothy Spear (D-2nd), who by the way makes his home in Creswell, include any appropriation for increased travel to the nine schools in his bill? You can believe he didn’t.

We assume the six small schools will be forced to play in the 1-A playoffs of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association. There is no language in the bill that creates a small school state championship although don’t be surprised if that doesn’t happen next.

It is embarrassing to see the North Carolina General Assembly get involved in high school athletics.

Anyone who thinks the six small schools that didn’t like their conference were the only ones in the state who felt that way would be sadly mistaken. Two of our local schools – Bertie and Hertford County – have been stuck in a 2-A/3-A split for the past two realignments. Speak to either Bertie AD Marvin Rankins or HCHS Athletic Director Charles Simmons and they will tell you that split has hurt their overall athletic programs.

Did either ask Hunter or Holloman to introduce a bill to keep them out of a split conference? No. They played where they were assigned because they placed the overall good of conference realignment over their own personal wishes.

If the realignment numbers were taken again today, it’s possible if not likely Bertie would be a 2-A school. Should the Falcons now ask Hunter to introduce legislation forcing the NC High School Athletic Association to allow them to play as a 2-A school in 2006-2007?

What’s to now stop a parent whose child has failed half of their school subjects to have a legislator friend introduce a bill to make that student eligible?

The floodgates have opened in what was once a hallowed place – prep athletics. Who knows what will happen next?

Gates County High School’s students deserved better than they got from the North Carolina General Assembly.