Macon students speak up about coming NCHSAA changes

Macon students speak up about coming NCHSAA changes

Macon County Early College student athletes took to the public comment period during the March 25 school board meeting to speak out against the possibility of not being allowed to play Franklin High School sports, as has long been the norm. 

“It’s important for you guys to understand the impact of your decision on MEC students,” said Lacey Prince, a member of the cheerleading squad. “We’re not just kids to be dismissed.” 

During the March 25 meeting, Chief Academic Officer and Director of Federal Programs Mickey Noe gave an update on the upcoming North Carolina High School Athletic Association realignment that is the cause for concern among MEC athletes.

FHS is currently a 3A high school. As it stands now, the classifications for high school athletics in North Carolina go as high as 4A. The NCHSAA is considering extending the highest classification up to 8A.

“That is a pretty big, significant jump, but officials believe the growth in the state of North Carolina in the next several years is going to be unbelievable,” said Noe. “The reason they’re growing their classifications is because of how many teams you can fit in the playoffs.”

In order to meet that growth, the state is expanding classifications.  

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Right now, there are nearly 25 MEC students that participate in athletics with Franklin High School. Because of this, the entire student body of Macon Early College, along with students from Bartram Academy if they were to participate in FHS sports, count in the Average Daily Membership of Franklin High School in NCHSAA data that determines the classification in which it will compete. The more students in a high school, the higher classification that school participates in.

The realignment into expanded classifications would not take effect until the summer of 2025 and would use data from the first month of the 2024-25 school year. Importantly, Noe pointed out that NCHSAA has not yet determined what the cutoff will be for ADM numbers within each classification. 

“We’re kind of under the whistle of trying to figure out what’s going on so that we can give you a decision and then just kind of go from there,” said Noe. “In the past it wasn’t a huge deal because we had the space for it. Because of this year and the new classifications is why it’s becoming such an issue and such a concern for everybody, because now there is no space for it. That’s why it’s coming up and that’s why it’s a huge deal now.” 

Regardless of what the NCHSSA decides, MEC athletes made it clear that they want to be included in FHS sports moving forward. 

Lilly Coker submitted a letter to be read during the public comment period. Coker is a soccer player for FHS and used her public comment to shine a light on all the high performing athletes that are enrolled at MEC.

“Freshmen and sophomores were promised before applying to MEC that we would be able to play sports and go to MEC, so it would be unfair to take that away from us,” Coker said.

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