OJD has several resources available on the website regarding collateral consequences of adjudications in juvenile court. This topic has been frequently addressed and discussed in webinars and other trainings. Included in these resources is information regarding the North Carolina High School Athletic Association. It has been a source of constant frustration for defenders in juvenile delinquency court that youth adjudicated of any felony were excluded/banned from participation in school sanctioned sports pursuant to rules established by the NCHAA.
The recent edition of the NCHSAA Handbook changes this rule. Previously, Rule 1.2.12 stated, “Any student who is subject to the NCHSAA eight semester rule who (1) is convicted of a crime classified as a felony under North Carolina or federal law; or (2) is adjudicated delinquent for an offense that would be a felony if committed by an adult, is not eligible to participate in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association sports program.” (Emphasis added.) This rule has been changed in 2023-2024 handbook and now reads:
“No student shall participate in interscholastic athletics after being convicted of a crime classified as a felony under the laws of North Carolina, the United States, or any other state.”
The Rules then adds subsection e which reads as follows:
“Prior to deeming the student ineligible, the NCHSAA shall receive a certified copy of a criminal record reflecting the conviction and verify that the student is the same individual identified in the criminal record.”
The rule has been adjusted for middle school age youth as well. This language now prohibits participation in athletics if adjudicated for a felony but is limited to the youth’s time in middle school. The rule reads, “[a]ny student who is subject to the Middle School six semester rule who is: (2) is adjudicated delinquent or an offense that would be a felony if committed by an adult is not eligible to participate in the North Carolina Middle School Athletic sports program. Such ineligibility shall be immediate and shall prohibit participation in the NC Middle School sports program from the date of conviction or adjudication of delinquency through the end of the student’s middle school career.” (Emphasis added.) Counsel should note the specific language no longer excludes participation through high school but terminates in middle school.
Reading the Rule in its entirety, the NCHSAA no longer bans a student from participation in sports based upon an adjudication of a felony in juvenile court. Defenders should be aware that the schools are still notified of any felony adjudication pursuant to N.C.G.S. 7B-3101. An individual coach or school may still impose a suspension or ban based upon a felony adjudication. If this is done based upon an understanding that the NCHSAA requires it, counsel may be able to assist the youth and parents by educating school personnel about the recent change. Counsel should still advise youth and their parents of the potential for a felony adjudication to impact extracurricular activities and any other collateral consequences of adjudications in juvenile court.
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