RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCT) — N.C. Sen. Michael Lazzara said the NC High School Athletic Association is reversing its decision and allowing a Richlands High School athlete to play soccer this season.
Caitlynn Guarino was told by the NCHSAA she lacked the required amount of classes to be eligible to play girls’ soccer this season. Guarino took Advanced Placement (AP) classes, which are graded at the end of the year instead of after the first semester.
Onslow County Schools appealed the decision, which was denied. An appeal to an independent group representing the NC Department of Public Instruction was also denied. The Department of Public Instruction stated at the NCHSAA can waive the eligibility requirement if they find it fails to accomplish its purpose.
A petition was started at Change.org by Ian Mcfarlane called “Allow NCHSAA Athletes Taking AP Classes To Play Despite Not Meeting Credit Requirements.” The petition states, “Student-athletes in North Carolina are being deemed ineligible by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association for not meeting credit requirements because AP credit is not counted until the end of the year.”
The petition had nearly 5,200 signatures as of 5:30 p.m. Monday.
Legislators working to change student-athlete eligibility issues
Maureen Guarino, Caitlynn’s mother, told WNCT’s Claire Curry she was playing for Richlands in a game Monday night at home against East Carteret.
“BREAKING I just got off the phone with North Carolina High School Athletic Association leadership, as they have decided to REVERSE their previous decision and allow Onslow County Schools’ scholar-athlete Caitlynn Guarino to play soccer this season. We are grateful for this decision and look forward to continued collaboration with NCHSAA to modernize the eligibility process and ensure fairness in athletic eligibility.”
Lazzara presented an amendment in the state legislature last Tuesday to correct the issue. Lazzara, who represents Onslow County, presented an amendment to SB 52: Open Meetings/Administering Organizations. The amendment was adopted and passed with a 46-2 vote out of the NC Senate. It then was sent to the NC House of Representatives by special message to receive further debate, consideration and a possible vote.
Another case regarding a student’s eligibility was also discovered shortly after WNCT’s story. Madison Small is a Southwest Onslow High School soccer player and captain of the team. Although she took a course through the community college, those credits don’t count.
They were working with Onslow County Schools to file appeals.