CHAPEL HILL -- Ten schools across North Carolina made a final plea to keep their athletic conferences from drastically changing next year.
On Tuesday, North Carolina High School Athletic Association board members heard appeals before the conference realignment plans are set in stone this week.
Jordan-Matthews High School Principal Martin McDonald voiced his concerns to the NCHSAA board. He wants to spare his athletes in Chatham County from traveling more than 450 miles to games each season.
"Students have to leave classes earlier and because our jayvee and our varsity programs travel together, that's a lot of students that are missing a lot of time when we talk about an average travel time of over an hour,” said McDonald.
There's nearly 400 schools across the state for the board to consider. NCHSAA Commissioner Davis Whitfield said the restructured conferences must accommodate new schools and enrollment changes.
"I think what we have to look at is what's fair for everyone involved and we can't just look at pockets as it relates to realignment or particular schools. We have to look at the entire process and how it affects all 390 schools," said Whitfield.
The realignment plan would force some schools to drive farther to games, which means more travel expenses, fewer fans and less ticket sales. The problems could leave those schools facing tough choices.
"You either got the possibilities of dropping a sport or in many cases you got the pay for play, which a lot of our kids wouldn't be able to be able do," said Cummings High Football Coach Steve Johnson.
NCHSAA works to prevent schools from experiencing major changes.
"What we based our realignment on was trying to make sure we had six to eight team conferences and looking at geography for the basis of our realignment," said Whitfield.
Still, McDonald said he worries his student athletes may suffer.
"We really want to have an athletic program that supports the goals of our academic programs and not vice versa," he said.
The restructuring of conferences occurs every four years.
To view the conference plans for 2013 through 2017, click here.