A day before they vote on a number of proposals at the LHSAA Annual Convention, many associated with Acadiana area schools sounded hopeful no further split between select and nonselect schools was in the works.
The LHSAA held their class meetings at Baton Rouge’s Crowne Plaza on Thursday, where principals in each class voted on rule amendments. But the buzz was about potential solutions to the current system that features nine state champions in football over two weekends.
“It’s definitely the elephant in the room as far as what everybody is concerned about,” Rayne football coach Curtis Ware said.
The LHSAA Executive Committee traveled across the state last week with the intent of convincing area principals, athletic directors and coaches to give new commissioner Eddie Bonine time to assess the situation schools currently find themselves in and arrive to an appropriate conclusion rather than further splitting the schools in other sports for the postseason.
The hope is that, given some time, Bonine and his staff can come up with a long-term solution rather than fixing leaks on a year-to-year basis.
“I’m kind of tired with the mantra, ‘Every year we’re going to change,’ ” St. Thomas More principal Richard Lavergne said. “I don’t think that’s a good thing. You might want to tweak some things, but to continue making changes, it’s just too constant. I want a good, solid plan that can last for years.
“I truly believe that we should give Mr. Bonine the opportunity to come up with a plan that’s not going to last just one year, but for several years.”
Said Teurlings Catholic principal Michael Boyer, “They say silence is deafening sometimes. It’s been a little quiet, but a lot of the people that I’ve talked to would like to see the association give him a year.
“The executive committee has been very high on him and extremely high on the experience that he brings in being in that position in another association.”
One of the football proposals up for a vote Friday is to create four nonselect or public classes, and three select, or private school classes — what everybody referred to as “the four and three” — which would cut the number of state champions from nine to seven and allow the LHSAA to run the state championships over one weekend rather than two.
“Me personally, if we’re going to stay split, why not go four and three?” Ware said. “That eliminates the problem of nine state champions, it eliminates the problem of having 2-8 schools in the playoffs, it eliminates the problem of having two weekends in the Dome.
“I think it’s the best and fairest way if we’re going to stay split.”
Still, others seemed more inclined to keep the current system intact while Bonine worked to come up with his solution.
One obstacle to that plan could come in the form of a proposal from Many principal Norman Booker III, who is seeking to have other sports’ playoffs mirror the current football system.
“My rationale behind my proposals is to more or less align those sports — basketball, softball and baseball — with football,” Booker said. “My concession is to amend those to make them match whatever passes in football. Football has led the way in this (split) process.”
The feeling from those in attendance was that Booker’s proposal would not be tabled until next year and would go to a vote Friday morning.
“Personally, my gut is telling me that is not going to pass, and I hope it doesn’t pass,” St. Thomas More Athletic Director Kim Broussard said. “That’s just one more issue that we’re going to have to deal with.”
That proposal could have potential logistical flaws.
“They’re going to take softball, and rather than have 56 games they’re going to have 96 games at the best softball facility in Louisiana — and probably the south — and I don’t know if that facility can handle the load,” Boyer said.
On top of the logistical problems, the thought of widening the divide between select and nonselect schools didn’t sit well with some.
The mantra most stuck with was to fix the current football system before figuring out what to do with the other sports.
“The worst thing that can happen is to split the entire association,” said Port Barre Principal William Duplechain. “Mr. Bonine deserves a chance.”