LAFAYETTE — Representatives from Lafayette area schools gathered Wednesday to discuss issues facing high school athletics in Louisiana and to meet the new man who will soon be calling the shots.
The LHSAA-area meeting at the Clifton Chenier Center was designed to prepare member schools to vote for potential rule amendments at next week’s convention in Baton Rouge.
Speaking on behalf of the LHSAA were President Vic Bonnaffee, interim executive director Jimmy Anderson and incoming Executive Director Eddie Bonine.
It was the fourth of six stops for Bonine and the LHSAA contingent, who will conclude their annual meetings Thursday in Baton Rouge and New Orleans. An Alexandria meeting was held Wednesday morning.
Bonine spoke for about 30 minutes to close the meeting, and he stressed he will do everything in his power to fix the private school/public school issues that have plagued the state and led to split football championships two years ago.
“I’m not a kick the can down the road guy,” he said. “This is not a delay tactic.”
Bonine opened by saying if the school is a house, its front porch is its athletic department, and that presents an image of how the school is portrayed. He noted his experience as executive director of the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association and dealing with one of its well-known private school powers, Bishop Gorman.
“I had some experience to bring to the table,” said Bonine, who will take over in March. “The committee felt that; now I’m here.”
The key agenda items have to do with classification — specifically with the split between select (private) and nonselect schools (public) and how it relates to other sports besides football. There wasn’t much discussion on those items, a contrast to other meetings.
Three proposals by Many’s Norman Booker III would split baseball, basketball and softball into five select and seven nonselect classifications, which would mean there would be 12 state champions for each sport.
“If we pass these three sets of proposals, then we’re really hamstringing Mr. Bonine,” Anderson said. “In my philosophy, we need to get football right before we take care of everything else.”
A possible solution comes in a proposal that would unite private and public schools and create a 6A class formed by the state’s 32 largest schools and anybody who wanted to jump to that level, and then divide the remaining schools among the five other classifications.
There was really no debate or discussion,,” St. Thomas More Athletic Director Kim Broussard said. “There wasn’t any argument. … Nobody stood up and said, ‘We need to do this,’ or ‘We don’t need to do this.’ So where it’s going to go next week, I really don’t know.
“I can tell you that I felt a lot better leaving that meeting today, because going in everything was what I call silent. But after listening to these gentlemen … I felt better.”
Several other proposals were presented with little response from those in attendance, including per-game wages for basketball referees – which rank among the lowest among the southern states.
Some others were met with disapproval, including one that restricts baseball pitchers to 14 innings in a calendar week.