Homa Ramirez Jr. is starting his third year as executive director of the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association.
He recently paid a visit to Fayetteville and was a spectator at Fayetteville Academy’s semifinal round game in the NCISAA 2-A soccer tournament.
While there are no major issues confronting the NCISAA at the moment, Ramirez said growing the association would be a welcome improvement.
“We have 93 schools in our association,’’ he said. “Parity is a good thing, but when you don’t have a lot of teams, you tend not to have that depth in the playoff experience.’’
In a perfect world, Ramirez would like to see membership increase to 120 schools, which would be a good fit with a plan to expand from three classifications to four. “A four-class system would not only be competitive, but more well-rounded,’’ he said.
There have been some complaints made about the outside influence being exerted in some sports in the NCISAA, notably AAU basketball. Ramirez is aware of the concerns and said the organization’s handbook is regularly revised so the rules and processes of the NCISAA are clearly understood.
“When red flags are raised, we make the phone calls, and we visit the schools,’ he said. “We investigate if that’s the term you want to use. But a lot of the situations that come about are hearsay, and there’s not a lot you can do with that.’’
While he doesn’t think these problems are rampant in the NCISAA, he said the organization has to be realistic. “Are their people pushing the envelope?’’ he said. “We have concerns about that. But it’s not the majority by any stretch.’’
Ramirez is looking to a couple of pilot programs that are designed to increase participation opportunities for member schools.
In football, two schools in the northeast corner of the state, Northeast and Hobgood, will be allowed to combine their athletes to field a football team. “We want to assess it to see if it’s a good experience and if we want to offer it to schools looking to start a program,’’ he said.
Another pilot program in basketball will have every boys’ and girls’ team in the state qualify for the postseason.
“We want to give these young people a chance to see what happens on the field,’’ he said.
Another big change for the association is the relocating of its headquarters from Asheville to the metro Charlotte area at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“People can come to the state office and we’ll show them our history that we’re proud of,’’ Ramirez said. “We’re also more centrally located for our member schools.’’
PHOTO: Homar Ramirez Jr., NCISAA executive director