Stevens’ realignment proposal on the money as local teams prepare for NCHSAA decisions on conferences and classifications

BY DON BEANE, News + Record Staff
Posted 4/24/20

When I read Nick Stevens’ story on the impending realignment I have to admit I was pretty ecstatic. Stevens, who does a great job as the Managing Editor of @WRAL’s and has been …

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Stevens’ realignment proposal on the money as local teams prepare for NCHSAA decisions on conferences and classifications

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When I read Nick Stevens’ story on the impending realignment I have to admit I was pretty ecstatic. Stevens, who does a great job as the Managing Editor of @WRAL’s and has been covering high school sports in North Carolina since 2006, laid out almost a perfect solution to what has been an ongoing problem in the NCHSAA. And that is what to do with the abundant influx of charter schools.

Of course that issue is evident right here in Chatham County, and it impacts local schools.

The NCHSAA is slated to realign the next school year after failing to do so last year and Chatham Charter, Chatham Central, Jordan-Matthews, Northwood and Woods Charter will all be waiting to see what changes are made in classifications as well as conferences.

Currently Chatham Charter, Woods Charter, and Chatham Central are all 1A’s, or the smallest classification in the state, while Jordan-Matthews is 2A, and Northwood 3A, with the largest class being 4A. As far as the locals schools will go, all will remain in their respective divisions, at least until Seaforth is opened next fall in 2021 which will split Northwood in what is anticipated as a pair of 2A schools, thus giving Chatham County six high schools.

Stevens’ plan is what I’ve been promoting for years, go to six classifications with 1A and 4A already subdivided due to the largest discrepancy in enrollment numbers. Then subdivide in 2A and 3A which will have more teams, likely 30 percent in each as compared to 10 percent in the other four. In football this would keep the eight state champions and in my opinion, should be used in every sport. I’ve never understood the argument against eight state champions now that the number of schools in North Carolina have ballooned with the population growth of the past three decades.

Where Stevens was genius was adding in the multipliers which would account for schools in crowded urban areas versus the same size schools in less crowded rural areas. This would level the playing field especially in the 1A classification where the disparity is most glaring given that the charter schools can draw students from much wider areas than traditional 1A schools such as Chatham Central. And even Chatham Charter and Woods Charter draw from less population than the likes of Raleigh Charter and Franklin Academy. But the inequity of the situation is real.

I’m not blaming the charter schools, or even the four parochial schools — it’s what the NCHSAA has allowed — and those are the current rules.

Eventually there will be enough charter schools to make a complete division for them come playoff time, but they could still remain in conferences with traditional public schools. In football, a multiplier would be added for the charter schools and parochial schools that field football teams, with that current number standing at only five right now out of 45 schools.

In Chatham County right now under Stephens proposal come state playoff time in all the sports Chatham Charter, Chatham Central and Woods Charter would all be small 1A with the largest school in the class going by the 2019 ADM numbers being Gates County with 482.

Albemarle and South Davidson out of the Yadkin Valley Conference would also be small 1A while North Stanly, North Rowan, and South Stanly would be 1AA, and Gray Stone Day and Uwharrie Charter 2AA and 3AA respectively due to the multipliers come playoff time. Despite the multipliers, Chatham Charter and Woods Charter would still be easily in 1A due to their smaller population location and smaller enrollment.

In the current Central Tar Heel Conference, Chatham Charter, River Mill and Woods Charter would be 1A while Eno River would be 1AA, Cornerstone 2A, and Raleigh Charter and Research Triangle 3AA when the playoff brackets are filled out.

Jordan-Matthews, Northwood and Seaforth would likely all be 2AA’s.

So that leaves the question: What to do with the conferences?

It’s an easy fix, despite the screaming and yelling I can already hear, by utilizing the split conferences.

Come state playoff time it won’t matter — the teams will go to their respective divisions — so for money and travel sake please, please, please use the common sense approach.

In Chatham County alone, we would already have a six team conference with Jordan-Matthews, Chatham Central, Northwood, Seaforth, Woods Charter and Chatham Charter. That is a lot of gate money and a lot of decreased travel time for our student-athletes and coaches. Four schools play football, and all you need to do is add a Carboro and North Moore and you are set.

Six schools playing football and eight total, with the longest travel distance being that of 48 miles from Carrboro to North Moore. For comparison sake, Chatham Central travels 48 miles or more currently in the YVC to six of its eight member schools. Taking it even a step further and given that most sports other than football play an home and away, and the Bears travel 866 miles round trip to those schools versus what would be 296 in my proposed conference. Driving roughly 60 miles an hour for reference sake and that’s 14.4 hours of bus or car time versus 4.8. Needless to say, that’s a lot of money for the schools saved in travel, and a lot more gate money with the natural rivalries. But most importantly for our kids, it’s much less travel to get them home earlier, allowing more time to study, and less wear and tear mentally and physically. And lets face it, gas money wouldn’t be as tough on families traveling to the games and more people may actually attend away games.

And as far as the argument that some will say that the 1A teams can’t compete, I would argue that all day long especially now that Northwood will be split in half. If they were still big 3AA, of course I would not make the argument that they be in the same conference as the smaller schools, but the numbers will force a drop off to an extent and result in a more level playing field in all sports.

So I for one hope that the NCHSAA follows the model proposed by Stephens, and I would encourage Chatham County to at least look into mine, and I mean this realignment with Seaforth opening up. It only makes sense financially and for the sake of our student-athletes, their families, and coaches.

Area conferences with 2019 Average Daily Membership figures:

1A Central Tar Heel Conference

Chatham Charter 196

Cornerstone Charter 338

Clover Garden 186

Eno River Academy 304

Raleigh Charter 561

Research Triangle 564

River Mill Academy 207

Woods Charter 183

1A Yadkin Valley Conference

Albemarle 435

Chatham Central 416

Gray Stone Day 428

North Moore 518

North Rowan 531

North Stanly 669

South Davidson 395

South Stanly 556

Uwharrie Charter Academy 601

2A PAC 7 Conference

Andrews, T.W. 827

Eastern Randolph 671

Jordan Matthews 870

Providence Grove 709

Randleman 856

Trinity 648

Wheatmore 764

3A Big Eight Conference

Cedar Ridge 1076

Chapel Hill 1536

East Chapel Hill 1528

Northwood 1433

Orange 1306

Southern Durham 1575

Vance County 1245


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