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NCHSAA realignment doesn't sit well with Bladen

posted Feb 11, 2016, 12:48 PM by Valerie Newton   [ updated Feb 11, 2016, 12:48 PM ]
Cumberland County Schools clear another hurdle in road to realignment of conferences
By Earl Vaughan Jr., Fayetteville Observer, Scholastic sports editor Updated 6 hrs ago  Comments
High school athletic officials from the Eastern half of the state converged on the Murphy Center at East Carolina University on Monday for one of two major meetings to look at the second draft of conferences released recently by the N.C. High School Athletic Association.

The proposed plan that would leave most of Cumberland County, along with Overhills, in a combination 4-A/3-A league while sending Jack Britt and Seventy-First to the existing Southeastern 4-A Conference met with no objection at the meeting.

"We were really pleased not to have anybody stand up and speak out,'' said Pine Forest principal David Culbreth, who is also one of Region 4's representatives on the state realignment committee. "All's well right now.'' David Culbreth, Pine Forest principal, is a member of the NCHSAA realignment committee.

In fact, the only major point of contention in the entire Cape Fear region appears to be in the proposed Conference M, which currently includes Clinton, East Bladen, East Duplin, Warsaw Kenan, Midway, Wallace-Rose Hill, East Bladen and Seven Springs Spring Creek, which is near Goldsboro.

Kim Cain, athletic director at West Bladen High School, said the issue involves travel for schools like his, which are on the western end of the conference and face drives close to 90 minutes to both Spring Creek and East Duplin.

Cain said that is a concern in sports where games are regularly played on Tuesday nights. Cain is worried late week-night finishes followed by long bus rides home and school the following day could create problems.

He said he's had some members of his coaching staff say they will not be able to continue coaching because they can't afford to lose that much time in the classroom and with their families.

Cain said the schools have looked at some possible alternatives, including five-team conferences that could cross-schedule, but nothing has been worked out yet.

Time is growing short to find a fix. The full realignment committee meets again on March 16 to look at suggestions received at this week's meetings, then the NCHSAA could issue a third draft of realignment following that. Beginning April 1, schools make final appeals to the realignment committee. Those appeals will be heard on April 13 then submitted to the full NCHSAA Board of Directors for final approve at its May 3-4 meeting.

The only appeals allowed at that meeting must be based on procedural error. Once the board votes, the new alignment begins Aug. 1, 2017.

Scholastic sports editor Earl Vaughan Jr. can be reached at vaughane@fayobserver.com or 486-3519