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UNC System board expands oversight on athletics realignment

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(The Center Square) – Universities in North Carolina’s public system seeking to change athletic leagues have a new layer of control to hurdle.

The Board of Governors for the taxpayer-supported University of North Carolina System has approved a measure giving itself authority. Sixteen universities are impacted, notably the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and N.C. State University in Raleigh that are charter members of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The ACC is among four remaining power conferences impacted greatly by recent moves involving what was known as the Pac-12, the Big Ten, the Southeastern and the Big 12 conferences. The Pac-12 exits left it with just two members, and the Big Ten and SEC continue to swell with speculation on if ACC schools will eventually be spread into their growing wealth.

The ACC was the last to get some of the Pac-12 teams, picking up Stanford and Cal. It also in the 2024-25 year welcomes Southern Methodist.

With the change, the Board of Governors requires and signs off on financial impact in an advance notice of intention to change leagues. Even if universities approve plans, it could be stopped by the board.

Chapter 116 of the state’s General Statutes gives governance of the system to the 24-member Board of Governors, each elected by the General Assembly and serving staggered four-year terms. Their purview includes planning, development, and overall governance, including electing the president of the system.

Under the UNC System umbrella are Carolina and State, plus Appalachian State, East Carolina, Elizabeth City State, Fayetteville State, N.C. A&T, N.C. Central, UNC Asheville, UNC Charlotte, UNC Greensboro, UNC Pembroke, UNC Wilmington, Western Carolina and Winston-Salem State that play intercollegiate athletics. UNC School of the Arts does not.

Playing in NCAA Division I leagues are Appalachian State in the Sun Belt; ECU and Charlotte in the American Athletic; A&T and UNC Wilmington in the Coastal Athletic; N.C. Central in the Mid-Eastern Athletic; UNC Asheville in the Big South; and UNC Greensboro and Western Carolina in the Southern.

In NCAA Division II, the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Conference includes Elizabeth City State, Fayetteville State and Winston-Salem State; and Conference Carolinas is home to UNC Pembroke.

The N.C. School of Science and Mathematics is also in the UNC System. It is a public high school specializing in science, technology, engineering and math, with significant humanities and arts programs.

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