NASH COUNTY — North Carolina high school students convicted of a felony, cannot play sports.
But Monday night, the Nash County School Board expanded that rule into murky waters to include the accused.
Head Coach Darren Phillips and his Rocky Mount football team believe they should be held to a higher standard, and if they break the law, they should not be allowed to put on the pads.
"It's a privilege," said Rocky Mount High School senior Calvin Hudgins. "It you can't handle yourself in the right manner, they take that privilege away from you. That's the punishment that you deserve."
The Nash County School Board has now taken a strict step further by saying if a student athlete is charged, not necessarily convicted of a felony, he or she will be automatically suspended from the team.
Nash-Rocky Mount Superintendent Travis Twiford also serves as president of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association.
"I think if it's serious enough that the legal authorities feel that they have a case, then we feel like that's serious enough that they should not be participating in inter-scholastic activities," Twiford said.
While the Nash County School Board unanimously supports that policy, some players and coaches are defensive. They argue that a person should be considered innocent until proven guilty, not vice-versa.
"I think they should wait until they are actually convicted," said senior Arnell Wooten.
The Nash County School Board is believed to be the first school district in the state to approve the tougher policy. It still requires a second vote at the Nov. 2 meeting before it goes into effect. Reporter: Cullen Browder