The smiles on the faces of Louisiana High School Athletic Association President Ken Delcambre and Executive Director Kenny Henderson afterward told the story.
More than five months after rejecting proposed pay raises, the LHSAA reserved field and approved pay raises for contest officials in seven sports during a special-called meeting held locally on Friday afternoon at Woodlawn High.
“We probably didn’t do as much as we could have done in January,” Henderson said. “If we want to talk in terms of this being a win, it is a win for our kids. And that’s what we’re looking for.
“It is going to be a win-win situation. These officials understand that too. It’s good for them and it’s good for our athletes.”
A total of 105 principals from all parts of the state attended the meeting that lasted a little more than 30 minutes. The group approved pay raises starting in 2011-12 for football, basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball, wrestling and soccer officials by a wide margin.
“I really do appreciate the people, some of whom drove a long way, for what was basically a 20- to 30-minute meeting,” Delcambre of South Terrebonne High said. “We didn’t want this to pass just because people were asking what was the alternative.
“We wanted to approach this meeting in a positive sense and that’s why all the positive comments were made. And I think you saw the result.”
In addition to providing pay raises for officials in seven sports, the proposal that passed also sets certification guidelines for football, basketball, baseball and softball officials that are tied to levels of pay in those sports.
“My biggest fear was not having a quorum to vote,” Louisiana High School Officials Association President Bryan Greenwood said. “I believe the (LHSAA) executive committee worked extremely hard to get the issue out there for the principals.
“I thought Mr. Henderson’s presentation at the area meetings was really spot on. It really broken down the costs for the schools, which cleaned up a lot of misconceptions people had.”
In order to vote, the meeting needed to attract at least 97 principals. Delcambre, Greenwood and Harry Jenkins, President of the Baton Rouge Area Basketball Officials Association, were among those counting each principal as he/she entered the Woodlawn auditorium.
“I was worried, because at 1:01 p.m. they didn’t have it (quorum),” Jenkins said. “But at 1:06 p.m. they did and a few more came in after that.
“I’m pleasantly surprised by what happened. I think the key was the presentation (at area meetings and online) and the approach taken.”
Henderson’s area presentation showed that the maximum increase for schools with all sports would be $1,771, provided the top-rated officials were used in all sports.
Hosanna Christian Academy Principal James Bentley was the only speaker to oppose the pay raises during open discussions about pay raise proposal.
Assistant Executive Director Keith Alexander, Louisiana High School Coaches Association President Sam Messina of Loranger High, Delcambre and several other members of the executive committee spoke in favor of the pay raises.
Earlier in the week, McKinley High Principal Armand Brown was not sure how he would vote. Brown wound up voting for the proposal.
“I studied it some more and the bottom line was I didn’t want anything that would hurt our kids or possibly delay the seasons,” Brown said.
St. Joseph’s Academy Principal Linda Harvison added, “We always look at what’s best for our girls. In this case, you do what you have to. Our budget is set, but we’ll have to tweak it and look for other ways to save some money.”
The most significant pay increases were for volleyball and basketball officials. Both groups rated among the lowest paid nationally.
A two-person volleyball crew get an increase from $55 to $75 for a best-of-five games varsity contest. Playoff pay goes from $90 to $110. Basketball officials get a raise from $2 to $9 per varsity game, based on their level of certification. Officials also get travel allowances.
Greenwood had planned a contingency LHSOA meeting to discuss what to do if the pay raises were not approved. Greenwood now has a different plan.
“We’re still going meet,” Greenwood said. “Now we’ve got new guidelines for certification and other things we have to prepare for. It’s time to get to work.”
Event management plan
The LHSAA executive committee concluded its three-day summer meeting Friday morning with a lengthy discussion about an event management initiative Henderson has set for 2011-12.
Henderson’s executive assistant, Rob Owens, is leaving the LHSAA staff to form Varsity Event Management with Shreveport’s Mary Ann Tice, former Executive Director of the Shreveport Regional Sports Authority.
Henderson said Tice and Owens will manage all the LHSAA’s championship events with the idea of providing a uniform championship event experience for all sports.
Owens will lease office space from the LHSAA. The executive committee went into executive session for 45 minutes to discuss the initiative.
Henderson declined to disclose the amount the LHSAA will pay Varsity Event Management in the open meeting.
Officials pay raises
Rates for regular-season varsity games only. Totals do not include travel allowances. See lhsaa.org for a complete list of rates
$110 for two-person crew
$110 plus $55 for each additional official for three or four-person crew
$50 for a registered umpire
$55 for an approved umpire
$65 for a certified umpire
From $33 to $35 for a registered official
From $34 to $37 for an approved official
From $36 to $45 for a certified official
From $28 to $30 for registered official
From $29 to $32 for an approved official
From $31 to $40 for a certified official
Clock operator $40, no increase
From $55 to $60 for a registered official
From $60 to $70 for an approved official
From $75 to $85 for a certified official
One official from $60 to $70
Two officials from $90 to $110
Three officials from $120 to $140
Four officials from $145 to $200
$95 for two umpires
$95 plus $45 for each additional umpire for three or four-person crew
$45 for a registered official
$50 for an approved official
$60 for a certified official
From $55 to $75 for two officials for best of five games
From $50 to $60 for one official for a dual meet
From $55 to $65 for two officials for a tri-meet or a quad-meet
No change for tournaments. Cost is $110 per official for a one-day tournament and $160 for a two-day tournament.