Local News

Endowment Aims To Ease Burden Likely To Hit N.C. High School Athletes

Posted April 28, 2004

— Many high schools across the country are charging students fees to participate in sports. Some say the practice, known as pay-to-play, can keep some students off the field.

In Wake County, nearly 15,000 high school students play a school-sponsored sport. The county pays $2 million a year just for its coaches.

"In Wake County, the biggest thing we're paying for are coaches and renting swimming pools and things like that," said Bobby Guthrie of the Wake County Schools athletic department.

Districts in 35 states have schools that charge athletes anywhere from $15 to $500 to play sports. So far, most North Carolina schools do not charge participation fees, but Karen DeHart says pay-to-play is on its way.

Buncombe County, in western North Carolina, charged high school athletes a $20 transportation fee. Three years ago, Wake County considered the idea of charging athletes to play, but it did not get a lot of support.

Dehart, the North Carolina High School Athletic Associations's director of development, says an endowment fund would ease the burden.

"So that we can have monies available as grant monies to offer to schools that have a need. So they would not have to pass their cost on to kids," Dehart said.

Right now there is $4.5 million in the fund, but the NCHSAA is looking for more to make sure everyone gets a swing at sports -- no matter the cost.

To help with the endowment fund, contact the

North Carolina High School Athletic Association

.

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