01/24/08 — Realignment - Association rebuts: 'School is 1-A size'

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Realignment - Association rebuts: 'School is 1-A size'

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on January 24, 2008 3:38 PM

GREENVILLE -- One appeal might have failed, but Wayne County Public Schools officials aren't ready to give up.

Dean Sauls, Wayne County athletics director, voiced his concerns about the latest realignment draft proposal concerning Goldsboro High to the N.C. High School Athletic Association's realignment committee on Tuesday.

When average daily membership (ADM) numbers were released in September, the number Sauls submitted represented Goldsboro's total enrollment of 728. He followed the guidelines mandated by the NCHSAA.

But Sauls became confused in Tuesday's meeting. While one NCHSAA official said Sauls sent in the correct number, another official said he could have adjusted the ADM in "anticipation" of increasing enrollment in the school of engineering.

Since the school must register 100 students each year to keep its grant, the additional numbers would help Goldsboro retain its Class 2-A status. Sauls presented that argument to the NCHSAA.

Rick Strunk, associate executive director of the NCHSAA, understood Goldsboro's plight but said the school was "locked in" to playing on the 1-A level for two seasons as a member of the Carolina Conference. The school can appeal once the two-year period ends, but must provide documentation that its enrollment has climbed as projected.

The decision caused an uproar, especially among Carolina Conference athletics directors. As the largest school in the six-team league, Goldsboro would have 100 more students than its nearest competitor, Ayden-Grifton, and at least 200 more each than North Duplin, Rosewood, Princeton and Spring Creek.

Had Goldsboro stayed 2-A, the Carolina Conference would not have changed. Instead, North Johnston is now the state's smallest 2-A school and has proposed to join former Capital Area opponents Franklinton, Bunn and Louisburg instead of replacing Goldsboro in the Eastern Plains 2-A Conference.

"Goldsboro wants to go up (to 2-A) and knows that their numbers are going to go up because of the school of engineering," said Ken Avent Sr., athletics director at North Duplin. "For some reason, whenever the Association lays down guidelines, they don't want to deviate from it."

Avent Sr. said every Carolinas Conference athletics director has written an appeal letter. Sauls plans to pass those letters along to Dr. Steven Taylor, superintendent of Wayne County Schools, who serves as the region 2 representative on the realignment committee.

Taylor will present Goldsboro's case again next week when the committee meets to draft its second realignment proposal. Should Taylor not receive a favorable response, Sauls has one last appeal available in April when the NCHSAA Board of Directors makes the final decision.

"We anticipate a school of 938 students in two years and hope they will let us remain 2-A when we'll be bigger than any 1-A school when the new realignment starts in 2009," said Sauls.

Just 10 years ago, Goldsboro competed in the old Mideastern 4-A Conference and dropped to 3-A in the late 1990s. The tradition-rich school merged into the EPC in 2005 when the latest realignment took place.

"If anyone wants to play up, I don't understand why they can't if it's not a hardship on the surrounding schools, and it's not," said Avent Sr. "In a democracy, you're supposed to have recourse to make the right decision. I'm hoping Dr. Taylor can push it through.

"Otherwise, we've got a battle on our hands."