H91: Accountability and Fair Play in Athletics. Latest Version


House
Passed 1st Reading
Committee
Rules
Passed 3rd Reading
Senate
Passed 1st Reading
Committee
Rules



AN ACT to restructure oversight of public high school interscholastic athletics to ensure accountability and fair play.

The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:

 

Part I. Regulation of Interscholastic athletic Competitions

SECTION 1.(a)  Chapter 115C of the General Statutes is amended by adding a new Article to read:

Article 29E.

Interscholastic Athletic Competition.

Part 1. Definitions.

§ 115C‑407.50.  Definitions.

The following definitions apply in this Article:

(1)        Commission. – The North Carolina Interscholastic Athletic Commission.

(2)        Director. – The Director of the North Carolina Interscholastic Athletic Commission.

(3)        Final Participation Appeal Board. – The Student Athletic Participation Final Appeal Board appointed by the State Board of Education to review final appeals of application of student participation rules.

(4)        Fund. – The High School Interscholastic Athletic Fund.

(5)        Gameplay Appeal Board. – The Interscholastic Athletic Gameplay Appeal Board.

(6)        Gameplay rules. – Rules adopted by the North Carolina Interscholastic Athletic Commission in accordance with this Article governing oversight of the administration, classification, scheduling, and conduct of interscholastic athletic activities.

(7)        Initial Participation Appeal Board. – The Student Athletic Participation Initial Appeal Board appointed by the State Board of Education to review initial appeals of application of student participation rules.

(8)        Parent. – The parent or legal guardian of a student participating or seeking to participate in interscholastic athletic activities.

(9)        Participating school. – A school serving any grade between six and 12 that is (i) part of a public school unit or the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics and (ii) elects to offer interscholastic athletic activities.

(10)      Student participation rules. – Rules adopted by the State Board of Education in accordance with this Article governing student eligibility to participate in interscholastic athletic activities. Student participation rules include both student participation and student health and safety requirements.

Part 2. Student Participation Rules.

§ 115C‑407.60.  Regulation of interscholastic athletic activities.

(a)        The State Board of Education shall adopt student participation rules governing student eligibility for interscholastic athletic activities conducted by public school units in accordance with the requirements of this Article. The rules adopted by the State Board of Education for interscholastic athletic activities at the high school level shall be administered by the North Carolina Interscholastic Athletic Commission. The rules adopted by the State Board of Education for interscholastic athletic activities at the middle school level shall be administered by the Department of Public Instruction.

(b)        The student participation rules shall include standards for student participation and student health and safety. Student participation rules shall include academic standards, enrollment requirements, attendance requirements, medical eligibility requirements, recruiting limitations, and hardship exceptions and shall ensure compliance with the requirements of G.S. 115C‑407.65 and G.S. 115C‑407.70.

(c)        All public school units shall conduct middle school interscholastic athletic activities in accordance with the student participation rules adopted by the State Board of Education as administered by the Department of Public Instruction. All public school units shall conduct high school interscholastic athletic activities in accordance with the student participation rules adopted by the State Board of Education as administered by the Commission. Public school units shall not be regulated by entities other than the State Board of Education and Commission for regular and postseason interscholastic athletics.

§ 115C‑407.65.  Rules on concussions and head injuries.

(a)        For the purpose of this section, a concussion is a traumatic brain injury caused by a direct or indirect impact to the head that results in disruption of normal brain function which may or may not result in loss of consciousness.

(b)        With regard to middle schools and high schools, the State Board of Education shall adopt rules that provide for the following:

(1)        All coaches, school nurses, athletic directors, first responders, volunteers, students who participate in interscholastic athletic activities, and the parents of those students shall receive, on an annual basis, a concussion and head injury information sheet. School employees, first responders, volunteers, and students must sign the sheet and return it to the coach before they can participate in interscholastic athletic activities, including tryouts, practices, or competition. Parents must sign the sheet and return it to the coach before their children can participate in any such interscholastic athletic activities. The signed sheets shall be maintained in accordance with subsection (c) of this section.

(2)        If a student participating in an interscholastic athletic activity exhibits signs or symptoms consistent with concussion, the student shall be removed from the activity at that time and shall not be allowed to return to play or practice that day. The student shall not return to play or practice on a subsequent day until the student is evaluated by and receives written clearance for such participation from one of the following:

a.         A physician licensed under Article 1 of Chapter 90 of the General Statutes with training in concussion management.

b.         A neuropsychologist licensed under Article 18A of Chapter 90 of the General Statutes with training in concussion management and working in consultation with a physician licensed under Article 1 of Chapter 90 of the General Statutes.

c.         An athletic trainer licensed under Article 34 of Chapter 90 of the General Statutes.

d.         A physician assistant, consistent with the limitations of G.S. 90‑18.1.

e.         A nurse practitioner, consistent with the limitations of G.S. 90‑18.2.

(c)        Each middle and high school shall maintain complete and accurate records of its compliance with the requirements of this section.

§ 115C‑407.70.  Emergency action plans.

(a)        With regard to middle schools and high schools, the State Board of Education shall adopt a rule that requires each school to develop a venue‑specific emergency action plan to deal with serious injuries and acute medical conditions in which the condition of the patient may deteriorate rapidly. The plan shall include a delineation of roles, methods of communication, available emergency equipment, and access to and plan for emergency transport.

(b)        The rule required by subsection (a) of this section shall require the plan to be at least the following:

(1)        In writing.

(2)        Reviewed by an athletic trainer licensed in North Carolina.

(3)        Approved by the principal of the school.

(4)        Distributed to all appropriate personnel.

(5)        Posted conspicuously at all venues.

(6)        Reviewed and rehearsed annually by all licensed athletic trainers, first responders, coaches, school nurses, athletic directors, and volunteers for interscholastic athletic activities.

Part 3. North Carolina Interscholastic Athletic Commission.

§ 115C‑407.75.  North Carolina Interscholastic Athletic Commission.

(a)        There is created the North Carolina Interscholastic Athletic Commission. The purpose of the Commission is to (i) apply and enforce the student participation rules adopted by the State Board of Education, (ii) adopt, apply, and enforce gameplay rules, and (iii) oversee the conduct of high school interscholastic athletic competition for public school units. The Commission shall not oversee interscholastic athletic competition for nonpublic schools.

(b)        The Commission shall be located administratively within the Department of Administration. The Department of Administration shall provide administrative services, office space, and meeting space for the Commission at no cost to the Commission. The Commission shall exercise all of its prescribed statutory powers and management functions independently of the Department of Administration. Management functions, as used in this section, means planning, organizing, staffing, directing, coordinating, and budgeting.

(c)        The Commission shall consist of 17 members. All members of the Commission shall be employed in a public school unit as an athletic director, superintendent, assistant or associate superintendent, principal, or assistant principal, or full‑time employee serving as a coach. Members shall be appointed as follows:

(1)        Nine members appointed by the Governor as follows:

a.         No more than three appointees total may be from each of the following categories:

1.         Athletic director.

2.         Superintendent or assistant or associate superintendent.

3.         Principal or assistant principal.

4.         Full‑time employee serving as a coach.

b.         No more than three appointees total shall be from a single athletic division adopted as provided in G.S. 115C‑407.80(a)(2).

(2)        Four members appointed by the General Assembly, upon the recommendation of the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, as follows:

a.         No more than two appointees total may be from each of the following categories:

1.         Athletic director.

2.         Superintendent or assistant or associate superintendent.

3.         Principal or assistant principal.

4.         Full‑time employee serving as a coach.

b.         No more than two appointees total shall be from a single athletic division adopted as provided in G.S. 115C‑407.80(a)(2).

(3)        Four members appointed by the General Assembly, upon the recommendation of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, as follows:

a.         No more than two appointees total may be from each of the following categories:

1.         Athletic director.

2.         Superintendent or assistant or associate superintendent.

3.         Principal or assistant principal.

4.         Full‑time employee serving as a coach.

b.         No more than two appointees total shall be from a single athletic division adopted as provided in G.S. 115C‑407.80(a)(2).

(d)       Appointed members shall serve for four‑year terms beginning on July 1 of odd‑numbered years. No appointed member shall serve more than two consecutive full terms. A seat shall be considered vacant if the appointed member ceases to be employed by the public school unit in the same position the member was employed in at the time of appointment. Vacancies in the membership shall be filled by the appointing authority in accordance with the criteria in subsection (c) of this section. Vacancies in appointments by the General Assembly shall be filled, as provided in G.S. 120‑122.

(e)        The Commission shall annually elect a chair and a vice‑chair from among its membership. In the absence of the chair, the vice‑chair shall preside over the Commission's meetings. All members are voting members, and a majority of the Commission shall constitute a quorum. The Commission shall adopt rules to govern its proceedings.

(f)        The Commission shall meet at least 10 times a year and may meet more frequently upon the call of the chair or the vice‑chair in the absence of the chair.

(g)        Members of the Commission shall receive compensation from the Fund for their services and reimbursement for expenses incurred in the performance of their duties required by this Article at the rate prescribed in G.S. 138‑5 and G.S. 138‑6.

§ 115C‑407.80.  Powers, duties, and restrictions.

(a)        The Commission shall have the following powers and duties:

(1)        Apply, enforce, and administer all student participation rules adopted by the State Board.

(2)        Adopt, apply, enforce, and administer gameplay rules as follows:

a.         Classification of all participating schools in the State into one of four athletic divisions based solely on average daily membership. For charter schools, the rules shall classify those schools into the next largest conference than the school would be assigned to based solely on average daily membership.

b.         Classification of all participating schools in the State into conferences based solely on geography, division classification, and average daily membership.

c.         Game rules, including rules specific to individual sports.

d.         Game administration.

e.         Coaching requirements.

f.          Officiating requirements.

g.         Sportsmanship requirements.

h.         Season and conference schedules and requirements, including the following:

1.         Preseason calendars and requirements.

2.         Regular season calendars and requirements.

3.         Post‑season conference and State tournament calendars and requirements. The rules shall limit all conference and State tournament participation to participating schools.

(3)        Adopt a system of demerits for infractions of student participation rules and gameplay rules which may result in reprimands, probations, suspensions, forfeitures of contests, forfeitures of titles, and disqualifications.

(4)        Make publicly available on the Commission's website all student participation rules, gameplay rules, and information on the appeals process, including specific information on how to make an initial and final appeal.

(5)        Coordinate the appeals process established in Part 4 of this Article for the Student Athletic Participation Initial Appeal Board and Student Athletic Participation Final Appeal Board for appeals of the application of student participation rules.

(6)        Coordinate the appeals process established in Part 4 of this Article for the Interscholastic Athletic Gameplay Appeal Board for appeals of the application of gameplay rules.

(7)        Apply the standards established by the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1232g, to all student records containing personally identifiable information in the possession of the Commission. The Commission shall be authorized to display and share student information designated by a participant school as directory information unless the participant school indicates that a parent has opted out of disclosure of that information. Other than directory information, all student records containing personally identifiable information held by the Commission are not public records under Chapter 132 of the General Statutes.

(8)        Establish programs to recognize special achievement, including recognition of outstanding scholar‑athletes.

(9)        Retain up to fifty percent (50%) of the net proceeds of any State tournament game.

(10)      Annually report by December 1 to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee and the State Board of Education on the following:

a.         Activities during the prior school year and recommendations and findings regarding improvement of high school interscholastic athletics.

b.         A copy of the most recent audit conducted by the State Auditor.

c.         A schedule of current fees charged to participating schools.

d.         The current balance of the High School Interscholastic Athletic Fund and the amount of interest accrued in the Fund over the prior fiscal year.

e.         From the prior fiscal year:

1.         The total of the Commission's expenses, including the percentage of those expenses expended on personnel costs.

2.         The amount of fees and gate receipts collected.

(11)      Exercise the powers of a body corporate, including the power to sue and be sued, to make contracts, to hold and own copyrights, and to adopt and use a common seal.

(b)        The Commission is not authorized to do the following:

(1)        Solicit grant funding and sponsorships from third‑party organizations, other than for State tournament games.

(2)        Provide grants to schools regulated by the Commission.

(3)        Provide scholarships to players.

(4)        Designate the use of specific or preferred vendors.

(5)        Retain a percentage of gate receipts for games other than State tournament games.

(6)        Regulate or control the intellectual property of schools, including team logos, mascots, and audio or video of any game other than the State tournament game.

(7)        Restrict the recording of audio or video at a State tournament game by any parent of a student participating in the game or any employee of the school participating in the game.

(8)        Impose monetary penalties for rule violations.

(9)        Prohibit participating schools from games against nonpublic schools prior to the conclusion of regular season play.

(10)      Retain any portion of receipts collected from ticket sales, concessions, or sale of merchandise by a participating school.

(11)      Delegate its statutory duties to the Director or other entities.

§ 115C‑407.85.  Director; other employees.

(a)        The Commission shall appoint a Director who shall perform all duties imposed by statute and such duties as may be assigned by the Commission. Except for Articles 6 and 7 of Chapter 126 of the General Statutes, the Director shall be exempt from all requirements of the North Carolina Human Resources Act.

(b)        The Commission shall employ and designate personnel to coordinate appeals, as required in Part 4 of this Article.

(c)        The Commission may employ, subject to Chapter 126 of the General Statutes, all necessary personnel for the performance of its functions and shall fix compensation for all employees within the limits of funds available to the Commission from the Fund.

(d)       The Commission shall not employ or contract with a legislative lobbyist or liaison.

§ 115C‑407.90.  Fees; High School Interscholastic Athletic Fund; annual audit.

(a)        The Commission shall be solely supported by fees and a percentage of gate receipts from State tournament games. The Commission shall adopt reasonable annual fees for participating schools as needed to support the duties of the Commission, including fees associated with student catastrophic insurance coverage. Annual fees may vary based on the division to which the school is assigned.

(b)        The High School Interscholastic Athletic Fund is established in the Department of State Treasurer as a fund for deposit of fees charged by the Commission to participating schools and gate receipts. Interest accruing to the Fund is credited to the Fund. The Commission administers the Fund and may use the Fund to support the work of the Commission. If the Fund reaches a balance that is two hundred fifty percent (250%) of the Commission's total expenses from the prior fiscal year, the Commission shall reduce the annual fee to participating schools by a minimum of twenty percent (20%). The Commission may increase annual fees if the Fund reaches a balance that is one hundred fifty percent (150%) of the Commission's total expenses from the prior fiscal year.

(c)        All Commission funds shall be handled in accordance with the State Budget Act.

(d)       The Commission shall be audited annually by the State Auditor pursuant to Article 5A of Chapter 147 of the General Statutes.

§ 115C‑407.95.  Student catastrophic insurance.

(a)        The Commission shall maintain a State‑funded student‑athlete catastrophic insurance policy and shall notify public school units regarding the coverage provided by the policy annually prior to the start of each school year. Notification shall include information regarding policy coverage details, instructions on reporting claims, contact information for additional questions, and instructions on obtaining a copy of the policy.

(b)        The Commission shall include in the annual fees charged to each participating school a per pupil share of the cost of the policy based on the number of students participating in interscholastic athletics at that school in the immediately prior school year.

Part 4. Appeals.

§ 115C‑407.100.  Student participation rules appeals process.

(a)        The State Board of Education shall appoint appeals boards as provided in this section to provide initial and final decisions on appeals of a decision related to the application of student participation rules for high school interscholastic athletic activities.

(b)        The following shall apply to all members appointed by the State Board of Education to the appeals boards established by this Article:

(1)        A member must meet the following requirements.

a.         Continuously reside in the education district the member is appointed to represent.

b.         Be an employee of a public school unit.

(2)        Members shall serve four‑year terms beginning on July 1 of even‑numbered years, and no appointed member shall serve more than two consecutive full terms.

(3)        Any vacancies shall be filled by the State Board of Education. A seat shall be deemed vacant if the appointed member ceases to be employed by the public school unit or reside in the same education district as at the time of appointment.

(4)        Members shall receive per diem and travel allowances in accordance with G.S. 138‑5 and G.S. 138‑6 to be paid by the Commission from the Fund.

(c)        The State Board of Education shall appoint a Student Athletic Participation Initial Appeal Board to review initial appeals. The Initial Participation Appeal Board shall have two members from each of the eight education districts established by G.S. 115C‑65. Members of the Initial Participation Appeal Board shall serve in three‑member panels. Members shall be assigned by the Commission through a method of random selection to serve on a panel, and panel assignments shall be rotated at least once every three months.

(d)       The State Board of Education shall appoint a Student Athletic Participation Final Appeal Board to review final appeals. One member shall be appointed from each of the eight education districts established by G.S. 115C‑65 to the Final Participation Appeal Board. The Final Participation Appeal Board shall decide all appeals en banc and shall not use panels. A member shall recuse themselves from any appeal related to a school located in the education district where the member resides.

(e)        The Director of the Commission shall provide electronic written notice of a decision related to the application of student participation rules to a school within two business days of the decision. A school shall provide notice to the student and parent of any student affected by a decision related to the application of student participation rules within two business days of the earlier of the decision by the school or notice of a decision by the Director of the Commission. Notifications by schools to the student and parent of the student may be made electronically with the consent of the parent of that student.

(f)        A school or student, including the parent of a student, may appeal an application of the student participation rules by the Director of the Commission as follows:

(1)        An initial appeal shall be made to the Initial Participation Appeal Board no later than 14 days following the date of transmission of the notice of the decision to the appealing party. The appeal shall be conducted in accordance with the procedures in subsection (g) of this section. The notice of appeal shall be submitted to the Commission's appeal coordinator who shall coordinate the hearing and assign the appeal to a three‑member panel that does not include any members from the education district in which the appeal originated. A hearing before a three‑member panel of the Initial Participation Appeal Board shall be scheduled within 14 days of the notice. The panel shall issue a written decision within seven days of the hearing that shall be transmitted to the parties electronically unless the parties request an alternative means of notification. The decision of the panel shall be appealable to the Final Participation Appeal Board.

(2)        A final appeal from an Initial Participation Appeal Board panel decision shall be made to the Final Participation Appeal Board no later than 14 days following the date of transmission of the notice of the decision to the appealing party. The appeal shall be conducted in accordance with the procedures in subsection (g) of this section. The notice of appeal shall be submitted to the Commission's appeal coordinator who shall coordinate the hearing. A hearing before the Final Participation Appeal Board shall be scheduled within 14 days of the notice. The Final Participation Appeal Board shall issue a written decision within seven days of the hearing that shall be transmitted to the parties electronically unless the parties request an alternative means of notification. The decision of the Final Participation Appeal Board shall be final.

(g)        The State Board of Education shall adopt by rule the procedures for conduct of appeals consistent with the requirements of this section. Appeal hearings may be conducted virtually, in the discretion of the reviewing entity, to facilitate timely hearings and access for parties. The rules, at a minimum, shall provide for the following:

(1)        The right of the parties to be represented at the appeal by a nonattorney advocate.

(2)        The right of the parties to be present at the hearing.

(3)        If the appeal is made by a student, the right of the student to be accompanied by his or her parents.

(4)        The right of the parties to question witnesses appearing at the hearing.

(5)        The right to present evidence on the parties' behalf, which may include written statements or oral testimony.

(6)        The right of the parties to make an audio or video recording of the hearing.

(7)        The right to a written decision, based on substantial evidence presented at the hearing, either upholding, modifying, or rejecting the application of the student participation rule, including the basis for the decision, and the right to appeal the decision and notice of the procedures for such appeal, when applicable.

§ 115C‑407.105.  Gameplay rules appeals process.

(a)        The Commission shall appoint an appeals board as provided in this section to provide initial decisions on appeals of a decision related to the application of gameplay rules.

(b)        The Commission shall appoint the Interscholastic Athletic Gameplay Appeal Board as follows:

(1)        The Gameplay Appeal Board shall have one member who meets the following qualifications from each of the eight education districts established by G.S. 115C‑65:

a.         Resides in the education district the member is appointed to represent.

b.         Is an employee of a public school unit.

(2)        Appointed members shall serve four‑year terms beginning on July 1 in even‑numbered years. No member shall serve more than two consecutive full terms.

(3)        Any vacancies shall be filled by the Commission. A seat shall be deemed vacant if the appointed member ceases to be employed by the public school unit or reside in the same education district as at the time of appointment.

(4)        A member shall recuse themselves from any appeal related to a school located in the education district where the member resides.

(5)        Members shall receive per diem and travel allowances in accordance with G.S. 138‑5 and G.S. 138‑6 to be paid by the Commission from the Fund.

(c)        The Director of the Commission shall provide electronic written notice of a decision related to the application of gameplay rules to a school within two business days of the decision. A school shall provide notice to the student and parent of any student affected by a decision related to the application of gameplay rules within two business days of the earlier of the decision by the school or notice of a decision by the Director of the Commission. Notifications by schools to the student and parent of the student may be made electronically with the consent of the parent of that student.

(d)       A school or student, including the parent of the student, may appeal an application of gameplay rules as follows:

(1)        An initial appeal shall be made to the Gameplay Appeal Board no later than 14 days following the date of transmission of the notice of the decision to the appealing party. The appeal shall be conducted in accordance with the procedures in subsection (e) of this section. The notice of appeal shall be submitted to the Commission's appeal coordinator who shall coordinate the hearing. A hearing before the Gameplay Appeal Board shall be scheduled within 14 days of the notice. The Gameplay Appeal Board shall issue a written decision within seven days of the hearing that shall be transmitted to the parties electronically unless the parties request an alternative means of notification. The decision of the Gameplay Appeal Board shall be appealable to the Commission.

(2)        A final appeal from the Gameplay Appeal Board panel decision shall be made to the Commission no later than 14 days following the date of transmission of the notice of the decision to the appealing party. The final appeal shall be conducted in accordance with the procedures in subsection (e) of this section. The notice of appeal shall be submitted to the Commission's appeal coordinator who shall coordinate the hearing. A member shall recuse themselves from any appeal related to a school located in the education district where the member resides. A hearing before the Commission shall be scheduled within 14 days of the notice. The Commission shall issue a written decision within seven days of the hearing that shall be transmitted to the parties electronically unless the parties request an alternative means of notification. The decision of the Commission shall be final.

(e)        The Commission shall adopt by rule the procedures for conduct of appeals consistent with this section. Appeal hearings may be conducted virtually, in the discretion of the reviewing entity, to facilitate timely hearings and access for parties. The rules, at a minimum, shall provide for the following:

(1)        The right of the parties to be represented at the appeal by a nonattorney advocate.

(2)        The right of the parties to be present at the hearing.

(3)        If the appeal is made by a student, the right of the student to be accompanied by his or her parents.

(4)        The right of the parties to question witnesses appearing at the hearing.

(5)        The right to present evidence on the parties' behalf, which may include written statements or oral testimony.

(6)        The right of the parties to make an audio or video recording of the hearing.

(7)        The right to a written decision, based on substantial evidence presented at the hearing, either upholding, modifying, or rejecting the application of the gameplay rule, including the basis for the decision, and the right to appeal the decision and notice of the procedures for such appeal, when applicable.

Part 5. Public School Unit Reports.

§ 115C‑407.110.  Public school units annual interscholastic athletic reports.

(a)        Each public school unit with one or more participating schools shall annually report the following information for the three school years completed prior to July 15 to the State Board of Education:

(1)        The total dollar amount spent on interscholastic athletic activities, by the following categories:

a.         Commission fees.

b.         Salaries or stipends for coaches and faculties for duties associated solely with interscholastic athletics.

c.         Capital costs, including new construction, repair and renovation, and maintenance costs for existing athletic facilities.

d.         Uniform and equipment costs.

e.         Travel and transportation costs.

f.          Officiating costs.

g.         Other identified costs.

(2)        The total dollar amount received from interscholastic athletic activities, including funds held in special funds of individual schools, by the following categories:

a.         Gate receipts.

b.         Concession sales.

c.         Merchandise sales or sales of items directly related to interscholastic athletics, including apparel and audiovisual materials.

d.         Student fees.

e.         Monetary and in‑kind contributions from third‑party organizations.

f.          State or local funding expended on capital costs for athletics facilities.

g.         Other identified sources of funds.

(b)        The State Board shall provide a summary of the reports by public school units and a copy of each public school unit report to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee no later than October 15 annually.

SECTION 1.(b)  The State Board of Education shall review and adopt new or revised rules on interscholastic athletics in accordance with the requirements of Article 29E of Chapter 115C of the General Statutes, as enacted by this act, no later than January 31, 2022. The State Board of Education is authorized to adopt temporary rules as provided in G.S. 150B‑21.1 for use in the 2022‑2023 school year.

SECTION 1.(c)  The State Board of Education shall make appointments to the Student Athletic Participation Initial Appeal Board and Student Athletic Participation Final Appeal Board no later than March 1, 2022. Notwithstanding G.S. 115C‑407.100, as enacted by this act, for the initial appointments to the boards, the State Board of Education shall designate eight of the 16 appointments to the Student Athletic Participation Initial Appeal Board to two‑year terms of office and four of the eight appointments to the Student Athletic Participation Final Appeal Board to two‑year terms of office. Thereafter, all appointments shall be for four‑year terms of office.

SECTION 1.(d)  The State Board of Education shall not designate the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) as the designated organization to apply and enforce the State Board of Education's rules governing participation in interscholastic athletic activities at the high school level for the 2021‑2022 school year unless the NCHSAA agrees to discontinue all financial penalties for rules violations for participating schools during the 2021‑2022 school year through a memorandum of understanding signed by August 15, 2021.

SECTION 1.(e)  In the event the NCHSAA is not designated by the State Board of Education to apply and enforce the State Board of Education's rules governing participation in interscholastic athletic activities at the high school level for the 2021‑2022 school year, or if the NCHSAA elects to not be the State Board of Education's designee, the State Board of Education shall direct the Department of Public Instruction to apply and enforce its rules for high schools for the 2021‑2022 school year. Notwithstanding the requirements of Article 2A of Chapter 150B of the General Statutes, the Department of Public Instruction shall apply and enforce the existing rules adopted by the State Board of Education as of July 1, 2021, and the existing rules and policies adopted by the NCHSAA as of July 1, 2021, for the 2021‑2022 school year, with the exception that the Department of Public Instruction shall not apply any financial penalties for rules violations for participating schools during the 2021‑2022 school year. The State Board of Education is authorized to charge participating schools reasonable fees to cover the costs of administration for the 2021‑2022 school year. The State Board of Education may use fees collected from participating schools to contract with an independent contractor with experience in managing athletics competitions for students of high school age to assist with administration of interscholastic athletic activities for the 2021‑2022 school year.

SECTION 1.(f)  A public school unit shall not pay dues to the North Carolina High School Athletic Association for the 2021‑2022 school year prior to the date the North Carolina High School Athletic Association enters into a memorandum of understanding with the State Board of Education as provided in subsection (d) of this section. A public school unit is authorized to participate in interscholastic athletic activities as follows:

(1)        During the 2021‑2022 school year, under the regulation of one of the following:

a.         The North Carolina High School Athletic Association, if operating under a memorandum of understanding with the State Board of Education as required by subsection (d) of this section.

b.         The Department of Public Instruction.

(2)        Beginning with the 2022‑2023 school year, under the regulation of the State Board of Education and North Carolina Interscholastic Athletic Commission, as provided in Article 29E of Chapter 115C of the General Statutes, as enacted by this act.

SECTION 1.(g)  Initial appointments to the North Carolina Interscholastic Athletic Commission shall be made by all appointing entities no later than September 15, 2021. Notwithstanding the terms of office and division requirements of G.S. 115C‑407.75, as enacted by this act, the following shall apply to the initial appointments made in 2021:

(1)        Of the members appointed by the Governor, four of the nine appointments shall be designated to serve a two‑year term, and no more than three members shall be employed by a school classified as Class A, AA, AAA, or AAAA, respectively, as of the date of appointment.

(2)        Of the members appointed by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, two of the four appointments shall be designated to serve a two‑year term, and no more than two members shall be employed by a school classified as Class A, AA, AAA, or AAAA, respectively, as of the date of appointment.

(3)        Of the members appointed by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, two of the four appointments shall be designated to serve a two‑year term, and no more than two members shall be employed by a school classified as Class A, AA, AAA, or AAAA, respectively, as of the date of appointment.

SECTION 1.(h)  The Secretary of the Department of Administration shall convene the first meeting of the Commission no later than 21 days after all appointments to the Commission have been made by the General Assembly and shall provide temporary staff to the Commission through December 1, 2021.

SECTION 1.(i)  The Commission shall adopt rules and fees in accordance with the requirements of Article 29E of Chapter 115C of the General Statutes, as enacted by this act, no later than February 15, 2022. The Commission is authorized to adopt temporary rules as provided in G.S. 150B‑21.1 for use in the 2022‑2023 school year. In adopting rules and fees, the Commission may establish workgroups of athletic directors, principals, coaches, and parents to provide input to the Commission.

SECTION 1.(j)  The Commission shall study and make findings and recommendations on the following issues and report on its findings and recommendations to the State Board of Education and the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee by April 1, 2022:

(1)        Whether the Commission should be responsible for overseeing the conduct of middle school interscholastic athletics for public school units, including enforcing student participation rules and adopting and enforcing gameplay rules. The Commission shall include in its deliberations an examination of the potential costs to public school units for oversight of middle school interscholastic athletics by the Commission. The Commission shall establish workgroups of athletic directors, principals, and coaches employed by schools serving students in grades six through eight and parents of students in grades six through eight to provide input to the Commission on this recommendation.

(2)        Factors that should be considered in (i) home school students' participation in interscholastic athletics, including how to address insurance and liability issues for those students while participating in interscholastic athletics, and (ii) cooperative innovative high school students' participation in interscholastic activities. The Commission shall establish workgroups of athletic directors, principals, and parents of students in home schools and cooperative innovative high schools to provide input to the Commission on this recommendation.

SECTION 1.(k)  The Commission shall provide information to all public school units in the State on the adopted rules and fees no later than February 28, 2022.

SECTION 1.(l)  Notwithstanding the requirements of G.S. 115C‑407.110, as enacted by this act, all public school units shall submit the first annual interscholastic athletic report to the State Board of Education no later than July 15, 2023, and shall include data from the 2018‑2019, 2019‑2020, 2020‑2021, 2021‑2022, and 2022‑2023 school years.

SECTION 1.(m)  This section is effective when it becomes law. Subsection (a) of this section applies beginning with interscholastic athletic competitions occurring during the 2022‑2023 school year.

 

PART II. CONFORMING CHANGES

SECTION 2.(a)  G.S. 115C‑12(23) reads as rewritten:

(23)    Power to Adopt Eligibility Rules for Interscholastic Athletic Competition. – The In accordance with Article 29E of this Chapter, the State Board of Education shall adopt rules governing interscholastic athletic activities conducted by local boards of education, including eligibility for student participation. With regard to middle schools and high schools, the rules shall provide for the following:public school units.

a.         All coaches, school nurses, athletic directors, first responders, volunteers, students who participate in interscholastic athletic activities, and the parents of those students shall receive, on an annual basis, a concussion and head injury information sheet. School employees, first responders, volunteers, and students must sign the sheet and return it to the coach before they can participate in interscholastic athletic activities, including tryouts, practices, or competition. Parents must sign the sheet and return it to the coach before their children can participate in any such interscholastic athletic activities. The signed sheets shall be maintained in accordance with sub‑subdivision d. of this subdivision.

For the purpose of this subdivision, a concussion is a traumatic brain injury caused by a direct or indirect impact to the head that results in disruption of normal brain function, which may or may not result in loss of consciousness.

b.         If a student participating in an interscholastic athletic activity exhibits signs or symptoms consistent with concussion, the student shall be removed from the activity at that time and shall not be allowed to return to play or practice that day. The student shall not return to play or practice on a subsequent day until the student is evaluated by and receives written clearance for such participation from (i) a physician licensed under Article 1 of Chapter 90 of the General Statutes with training in concussion management, (ii) a neuropsychologist licensed under Article 18A of Chapter 90 of the General Statutes with training in concussion management and working in consultation with a physician licensed under Article 1 of Chapter 90 of the General Statutes, (iii) an athletic trainer licensed under Article 34 of Chapter 90 of the General Statutes, (iv) a physician assistant, consistent with the limitations of G.S. 90‑18.1, or (v) a nurse practitioner, consistent with the limitations of G.S. 90‑18.2.

c.         Each school shall develop a venue specific emergency action plan to deal with serious injuries and acute medical conditions in which the condition of the patient may deteriorate rapidly. The plan shall include a delineation of roles, methods of communication, available emergency equipment, and access to and plan for emergency transport. This plan must be (i) in writing, (ii) reviewed by an athletic trainer licensed in North Carolina, (iii) approved by the principal of the school, (iv) distributed to all appropriate personnel, (v) posted conspicuously at all venues, and (vi) reviewed and rehearsed annually by all licensed athletic trainers, first responders, coaches, school nurses, athletic directors, and volunteers for interscholastic athletic activities.

d.         Each school shall maintain complete and accurate records of its compliance with the requirements of this subdivision pertaining to head injuries.

The State Board of Education may authorize a designated organization to apply and enforce the Board's rules governing participation in interscholastic athletic activities at the high school level.

SECTION 2.(b)  G.S. 115C‑47(4) reads as rewritten:

(4)      To Regulate Extracurricular Activities. – Local boards of education shall make all rules and regulations necessary for the conducting of extracurricular activities in the schools under their supervision, including a program of athletics, where desired, without assuming liability therefor; provided, that all interscholastic athletic activities shall be conducted in accordance with rules and regulations prescribed adopted by the State Board of Education.Education and the North Carolina Interscholastic Athletic Commission, in accordance with Article 29E of this Chapter. For any sport for which the North Carolina Interscholastic Athletic Commission has adopted gameplay rules, a local board of education shall only participate in interscholastic athletic activities regulated by the Commission.

SECTION 2.(c)  G.S. 115C‑366(f) reads as rewritten:

(f)       This section shall not be construed to allow students to transfer from one local school administrative unit to another for athletic participation purposes in violation of eligibility requirements established adopted by the State Board of Education and the North Carolina High School Athletic Association.Education.

SECTION 2.(d)  G.S. 116‑235(b) is amended by adding a new subdivision to read:

(4)      Interscholastic Athletics. – If the Board of Trustees elects to provide a program of interscholastic athletics, that program shall be conducted in accordance with rules adopted by the State Board of Education and the North Carolina Interscholastic Athletic Commission, in accordance with Article 29E of Chapter 115C of the General Statutes. For any sport for which the North Carolina Interscholastic Athletic Commission has adopted gameplay rules, the School shall only participate in interscholastic athletic activities regulated by the Commission.

SECTION 2.(e)  G.S. 126‑5(c1) is amended by adding a new subdivision to read:

(37)    The Director of the North Carolina Interscholastic Athletic Commission.

SECTION 2.(f)  G.S. 143‑291(c) is repealed.

SECTION 2.(g)  This section becomes effective July 1, 2022.

 

PART III. FUNDING FOR NORTH CAROLINA INTERSCHOLASTIC ATHLETIC COMMISSION

SECTION 3.  It is the intent of the General Assembly to provide funding to be used for the establishment of the North Carolina Interscholastic Athletic Commission and initial personnel costs during the 2021‑2022 fiscal year.

 

Part IV. Effective Date

SECTION 4.  Except as otherwise provided herein, this act is effective when it becomes law.