History of the NCHSAA

The North Carolina High School Athletic Association, Inc., was founded early in the 20th century. And even though the NCHSAA has witnessed dramatic growth in the scope of its programs and has had to deal with the changing face of education, one thing has remained constant: the Association’s commitment to providing a wholesome athletic environment. 

The Association is a voluntary, non-profit corporation which administers the state’s interscholastic athletic program. Any North Carolina public or non-boarding parochial high school is eligible for membership, provided it is accredited by the State Department of Public Instruction and that the school adopts and maintains a prescribed code to guarantee fair competition. 

NCHSAA Beginnings

The University of North Carolina professor Dr. Louis Round Wilson spearheaded the founding of the NCHSAA. In 1912, he approached university president Dr. Francis P. Venable about starting a university Extension Division. After a year of heated debate, a total of $600 was approved for this project, with one-third of that amount earmarked for the beginning of a high school athletic association which would help standardize regulations and ensure fairness. A university committee was to control the association’s operation, which was part of the Extension Division. 

State championships were held in football and track in 1913 and several other sports were added to the program soon thereafter. A chart indicating when sports were added and their inaugural champions is listed elsewhere in the Handbook. 

As the school people of the state desired more direct control of their organization, there was a move to change the way the Association operated. In 1947, a new constitution was adopted, by which the university was relieved from most financial obligations with the NCHSAA but continued to house the Association offices. The new constitution also provided for a Board of Directors as it is presently operating. In June of 2010, the NCHSAA became an independent organization no longer affiliated with the university. 

Important Dates in NCHSAA History


The Association now has over 400 member schools and certifies the eligibility of over 200,000 athletes annually. Other organizations which have contributed greatly to high school athletics in the state have over the years merged with the NCHSAA. Member schools of the North Carolina High School Athletic Conference, the organization for black high schools, joined the Association in 1967. The Western North Carolina High School Activities Associa­tion (WNCHSAA) joined the Association in 1977, leaving one primary body working with high school athletics in North Carolina. 

Seven executive directors/commissioner have served the Association since its inception.

Those officers, including their years as executive director, include:
E.R. Rankin (1924-42)
C.E. McIntosh (1943-47)
L.J. “Hap” Perry (1948-66) 
Simon F. Terrell (1967-84) 
Charles H. Adams (1984-2010)
Davis A. Whitfield (2010-15)
Que Tucker (2015 to present)

The Simon F. Terrell Building, which houses the Association offices, is located adjacent to Finley Golf Course in Chapel Hill. It was completed in 1978, and the new wing opened during the 1994-95 academic year.

North Carolina High School Athletic Conference

The North Carolina High School Athletic Conference served for many years as the athletic organization for historically black high schools. The NCHSAC conducted classified state championships in several sports, certified officials and administered its athletic program. Dr. Army Armstrong of Rocky Mount served as its commissioner for many years.

Members of the old NCHSAC, which numbered over 100 at one point, joined the NCHSAA when the Conference merged with the Association.  The NCHSAC actually disbanded in 1969.  We have diligently researched to uncover state champions, scores of championships, and the like. Unfortunately, there was no master list of champions or game results, and much of what has been uncovered comes from research done by NCHSAA interns in newspaper microfilm or from former coaches and athletic directors.  The listings of champions in various sports for the NCHSAC, such as football and basketball, are found in Championship Results of those sports. 


Robeson Indian High School Athletic Conference 

The Robeson Indian High School Athletic Conference began interscholastic participation in the 1920's. Original members of the conference were Fairmont, Green Grove, Magnolia, Pembroke, Piney Grove, Prospect and Union Chapel. Teams competed in several sports, but the post-season basketball tournament at Pembroke State was always a highlight of the year. With consolidation reducing the number of schools to four, the league added Hawkeye (Hoke County) and Les Maxwell (Cumberland in 1966 to become the Tri-County Indian High School Athletic Conference. Then in 1968 the schools joined the NCHSAA, just as the schools in the North Carolina High School Athletic Conference for black high schools did.


Western North Carolina High School Activities Association 

The Western North Carolina High School Activities Association was founded on December 10, 1929. Charter members included Belmont, Concord, Kings Mountain, Lexington, Lincolnton, Monroe, Newton, Mooresville, Black Mountain, Cliffside, Hickory, Lenoir, Marion, Morganton, and Rutherfordton-Spindale. The WNCHSAA grew to 42 members in four conferences before it was dissolved in June of 1977 and its members joined the NCHSAA.

Only three of the 42 members failed to win a Western title in some sport during the WNCHSAA’s existence. W.C. Clary served for many years as executive director of the organization.

From 1930-1953, the WNCHSAA had two conferences, South Piedmont and Western, and later there were four conferences.  Playoffs were held in a number of sports, including football, men's and women's basketball, baseball, wrestling, track and field and other sports.