There were few surprises and limited debate when the LHSAA’s executive committee tackled and approved its annual convention agenda Thursday.

The winter meeting held at the LHSAA office in Baton Rouge lasted seven hours and covered plenty, including a 61-page agenda of items. Items on the agenda is scheduled for a vote during the LHSAA convention Jan. 24-26 at the Crowne Plaza.

“There was not a lot of debate, just solid conversation,” LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine said. “I was impressed with Mr. (Tommy) Byler’s presentation on changing how we classify schools. I’m pleased the commmittee approved moving forward with a proposal to make it a four-year classification process, not two years.”

The most intense debate swirled around two items the committee opted not to put on the agenda. One would have changed the evaluation period for preseason baseball/softball. The other was a request by the Louisiana Football Coaches Association’s to set up guidelines for outside 7-on-7 football teams/tournaments.

“I think we’ve got a really strong committee now and through our first few meetings we learned a lot and made sure this meeting would run smooth,” LHSAA President Niles Riche of Assumption said. “There were no surprises at all. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens with Tommy’s proposal. I hope people give it a shot.”

Byler, the principal of North Vermilion, co-authored several proposals for the Louisiana High School Coaches Association. But a proposal Byler personally authored got everyone's attention. It was pitched as a possible solution for woes to the select/nonselect playoff system. Instead of classifying all schools together, Byler’s plan would classify nonselect public schools first and then add select/nonpublic schools back for districting purposes.

“My desire would be for us to come back together and play, but it doesn’t look like that is going to happen,” Byler said, "so we need to start looking at ways to make what we have better.”

Byler’s plan would put 45 to 48 nonselect schools together in classes and eliminate teams with no wins or few wins on playoff brackets. He showed the committee an example using the current 1A football bracket. It eliminated all one-win or no-win teams, leaving one 2-8 team and one 3-6 team. Byler said he hopes to apply it to other sports and provide examples before January.

The plan would give the nonselect schools the option for one less championship in most sports. Select schools were given the right to decide their own playoffs at last January's convention and could make their changes.

Across-the-board support for Bonine’s suggestion that the LHSAA move from a two-year to a four-year classification process was the other major item. Bonine made the proposal based on experience with other states who use a four-year process and said the plan would include flexibility to add/subtract schools.

Byler co-authored two select/nonselect split-related plans for the Louisiana High School Basketball Coaches Association. The first would end the select/nonselect split in basketball only and prompted no discussion. The second would put select and nonselect girls/boys teams in separate tournaments a week apart, eliminating a bye week for select schools. The most notable comment came from Assistant Executive Director Karen Hoyt, a former coach, who said girls coaches would prefer their own tournament.

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