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Tom McInnis

As one of several state lawmakers who have looked into operations and assets of the N.C. High School Athletic Association in recent weeks, Sen. Tom McInnis has been appointed to a General Assembly subcommittee created to examine issues concerning oversight and supervision of public high school athletics.

According to a press release, the subcommittee on interscholastic athletics was established this year under the Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations to examine issues concerning the administration and management of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association.

“For so many families in my district, high school athletics is the center of their social calendar. Friday night football games bring together the entire community,” said Sen. McInnis, who represents the 25th District that includes Moore County. “The N.C. High School Athletic Association has amassed more than $41 million in assets, an amount unheard of for all other high school athletic associations. The General Assembly must take a proactive approach to ensure that the NCHSAA is playing fair and is true to its mission.”

McInnis is one of 19 lawmakers on the subcommittee that is co-chaired by Speaker Tim Moore and Sen. Phil Berger.

The Republican senator began initial investigations into the NCHSAA in 2019 following an incident involving ejections from the Richmond-Anson football game, according to HighSchoolOT.com. McInnis told the statewide high school athletics news outlet that he wanted to be a voice for Anson after it was deemed ineligible for the state playoffs, while Richmond was able to compete in the postseason.

Sen. McInnis’ district covers Moore, Richmond, Anson and Scotland counties.

On April 15, McInnis and several other members of the Commission on Governmental Operations questioned NCHSAA Commissioner Que Tucker on the finances and oversight of the association. The inquiry was recorded and later made available online.

On the video, Tucker reiterated that the association is made up of the member schools and follows the guidance set by the Board of Directors — and that board is made up of individuals with connections to the public schools who are not paid employees of the association.

The video included comparisons for the NCHSAA to other states’ organizations across the country. According to information released by the subcommittee, a June 2020 audit of the NCHSAA found total assets of $41,866,464 — the highest amount of any high school athletic association, and nearly double those of the second-highest state association.

A majority of that money is a part of the association’s endowment fund, partially dispersed to member schools, Tucker said during the questioning, adding that annual endowment funding sent out to all 421 member schools was $1.3 to $1.4 million in recent years. The NCHSAA board has approved sending an extra $4 million to schools to offset costs due to the coronavirus, she also said. Appropriations are sent out top the member schools based on a funding model set by the association.

Lawmakers told Tucker they would like to see more equitable distribution of the funds to high school athletic departments across the state.

Following the questioning, Tucker sent out a statement.

“This was an insightful experience, and we appreciate hearing the legislators’ concerns and open dialogue about our association," the statement read. "We believe we accomplished our goal to better inform legislators of our mission, vision and values. We look forward to continue this dialogue in the coming weeks.”

Contact Jonathan Bym at (910) 693-2470 or jonathan@thepilot.com.

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