CHAPEL HILL — The North Carolina High School Athletic Association is leaving attendance requirements for athletic eligibility up to individual school systems and has curtailed lopsided scores on the hardwood and gridiron by instituting mercy rules.
The NCHSAA’s Board of Directors revealed their final votes on several proposals Wednesday in Chapel Hill, decisions that will have a profound impact on several local athletic teams next season.
The Public Schools of Robeson County currently does not have an attendance policy for athletics.
“That’s something we’re going to have to look at because we follow the NCHSAA’s attendance policy,” said PSRC athletic director Jason Suggs. “We adhere to the statewide (attendance) policy. We have one in place, but it’s not for athletics. The (board) will need to meet on that before the fall.”
Under the NCHSAA’s new mercy rules, which go into effect next season, a football game can be called by mutual agreement from coaches or shortened using a running clock — only stopping during timeouts, injuries and after touchdowns — with a team leading by 42 or more points.
In Robeson County, seven of 63 football games involving area teams last season would’ve been altered under the new rule change. Red Springs’ 67-7 loss at Whiteville, St. Pauls’ 52-6 victory over West Columbus, Lumberton’s 49-point setback at Richmond, a pair of conference losses for Purnell Swett and two sizable shutouts from South Robeson were acceptable based on the lead margin in the second half.
Fairmont’s 46-0 win during Week 2 at Fayetteville Christian was made official at halftime after the Warriors refused to take the field in the second half.
“For me, I’m getting to the point where I’m a little bit older and I want to respect the game,” said Red Springs football coach George Coltharp. “As a coach, you know when it’s not your day. Sometimes you get set up against a team that’s really good, and I’ve been on both sides of it. Most of us were in favor of the rule because I don’t want to have to tell my team I quit on them.
“We’re teaching kids about more than football. It’s hard to tell kids you’re going to quit. I don’t think anybody agreed with the termination clause. You won’t see many terminated games, unless the weather’s horrible or something like that.”
Coltharp said his biggest concern was leaving the mercy rule decision to coaches or on a conference-by-conference basis.
“I’m glad the board of directors made a final decision,” he said. “Sometimes, coaches get caught up in statistics and that stuff. All of us coaches talked about it at length in February during our meeting (in Greensboro) and I think we all had similar opinions.”
The mercy rule number’s 40 points in basketball, not that high locally considering multi-time Three Rivers Conference champion Fairmont’s captured 10 of its last 45 wins equal to or exceeding that margin.
A running clock in basketball will only stop during a timeout. Trips to the free-throw line and dead-ball situations are fair game.
Football playoff pods, adopted in 2010 for all classifications, have been eliminated in the 1A ranks. The NCHSAA abandoned pods for the state’s other levels prior to last season, frustrating 1A coaches stuck in an aging model that was originally aimed at saving money based on travel.
A survey of principals revealed that 81 percent were in favor of dropping the pod seeding.
Reach Brad Crawford at 910-272-6111 or on Twitter @MrPalmettoSDS.