Local News

Wake School Board Considers Dropping Athletics

Posted April 29, 2001 2:52 a.m. EDT

— Facing a $10 million budget hole, the Wake County school board is looking for places to cut. One of the possible cuts they are considering is athletics.

J.C. O'Neal, a former high school coach now on the board, says it might come to that if the board can not get a 5 cents tax increase.

"If we get in a corner and push comes to shove, there's a possibility we might have to [cut athletics]," he says.

The North Carolina High School Athletics Association says it would be a big mistake. High school sports have been proven to help academics, and between gate receipts and booster sales, the teams cover half their own costs.

"High school athletics is big business, and most of the schools take in a lot of revenue in major revenue producing sports," says Charlie Adams of the NCHAA.

Some parents think the school board is bluffing.

"I think some of it is political," says one mother at a baseball game. "[They're] trying to scare the people."

"I'm not bluffing," says O' Neal. "I don't think anybody is bluffing. We just added that to the list of ways we can create funds if necessary."

"The first thing that a lot of people say is 'let's cut back,' and the first thng they want to cut back is athletics," says Adams. "I've been with [the NCHAA] for 35 years and I've never known any school or system to cut back athletics."

The NCHAA says that statewide, almost 40 percent of students participate in sports.

A North Carolina study shows that athletes have a higher grade point average than non-athletes, lower absence rates, lower dropout rates, and a higher graduation rate than non-athletes.