CHAPEL HILL — The great unknown that is the latest round of N.C. High School Athletic Association realignment became clearer today. But only slightly.
It still isn't known whether the NCHSAA will add a fifth classification for the next four-year realignment period, which begins with the 2021-22 school year. The association will send out a ballot to all 418 member schools after Jan. 1, 2020, but before the end of the spring semester, asking if they would like the association to amend its bylaws to move beyond the current 4-A, 3-A, 2-A and 1-A classifications. It would take a vote of at least three-quarters of the membership to change the bylaws.
"We will be reaching out to the membership with a ballot," Commissioner Que Tucker said after the association's twice-yearly board of directors meeting. "I'm not going to tell you what the ballot is going to say, but that it will address the classifications as carried in the bylaws."
If approved, such a change could produce more or fewer football state champions depending on how the rest of realignment takes shape between now and August 2021. The NCHSAA currently subdivides each of its four classifications into A and AA for the football playoffs based on enrollment, but whether they will still be subdivided after realignment has yet to be determined.
Tucker and the president of the board, Glenn Principal Brad Craddock, did say a realignment committee is already at work on various scenarios and held its first meeting Nov. 14. Neither Tucker nor Craddock would identify anyone on the committee because they did not want them distracted at this point in the process, but they did say its membership "mirrored" the geographic and philosophical diversity of the board of directors, while also including coaches.
"The committee looked at a lot of different ideas," Tucker said, "with the understanding that our bylaws speak loudly and clearly, and if we're going to talk about a change from the four classifications that the bylaws call for, that requires a vote of the membership."
Craddock said he took part in the first meeting of the realignment committee and the next meeting is expected to be in late January or mid-February.
"I charged this group saying, 'Change is not comfortable. It's not pleasant, but we can't do the same thing over and over and expect different results,' " Craddock said. "So, I challenged them to think outside the box and get as creative as they wanted to be if it would address some of the issues we face."
The timeline and the process for realignment must be set at the spring NCHSAA board of directors meeting, which will be held the last week in April.