Picture yourself in the shoes of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s search committee.
Your job is to help other members of the executive committee pick Mr. Right to take over as the association’s executive director. The person hired will be asked to help the LHSAA navigate through perhaps its most troubled waters ever.
No pressure, right?
Doyle High School Principal Tommy Hodges and Redemptorist football coach Terence Williams aren’t backing away from the challenge or dodging questions about it.
“We’re just getting started with this process and obviously it’s new to me,” Hodges said. “I’m looking forward to seeing who the applicants are and then listening to their ideas as the process continues. I think we need to have an open mind as we go through this.”
Hodges and Williams are Baton Rouge’s representatives on the seven-member search committee led by past LHSAA President Todd Guice of Ouachita Parish High.
The committee is charged with sifting through potential applicants to make sure they meet the guidelines the LHSAA has set for the job vacated late last month when the executive committee opted to sever ties with Executive Director Kenny Henderson.
Ultimately, Guice and the subcommittee will help the executive committee determine who to interview for the job. Ideally, Henderson’s successor needs to be in place by the end of the year.
The consensus is that this should happen sooner rather than later as the LHSAA approaches its fall playoff season and football championships. The LHSAA’s annual convention, which seems destined to include more drama/proposals that could split the 93-year-old organization in sports other than football, looms in late January.
That window the committee needs to get through may be tighter than the ones Peyton Manning and Tom Brady navigate on NFL Sundays. Especially when you consider the application deadline runs through Nov. 21.
“We need someone who comes in with a plan,” Williams said. “And it needs to be a comprehensive plan that gets us not just through this year but goes into the future.
“The person we hire has to be someone who can relate not only to the principals, but who can bring people together. That person needs to be comfortable with the coaches, athletics directors and the legislature.”
Both Hodges and Williams applauded the decision to bring on former LHSAA President Jimmy Anderson as the interim executive director.
“I want to hear what all the applicants we interview have to say,” Hodges said. “They may come in with a point of view or some ideas that we can use to help put us move in the right direction.”
Of course, who that person will be and what direction the LHSAA moves in next are points for debate. Henderson’s decision not to take a stand during the LHSAA’s split vote and beyond made him a lightning rod for criticism.
The executive committee issued a position statement against any additional split in June, providing at least a moment of clarity. Whether member principals consider it for more than a minute before they vote to widen the split is the key question.
The timing of Henderson’s exit seems likely to limit interest by out-of-state candidates, which Hodges said is unfortunate. Monroe’s Brent Vidrine and School Relations Committee Chairman Mike Boyer of Teurlings Catholic were names whispered soon after Henderson’s departure and a rumored list of Louisiana candidates is growing.
Port Barre Principal Bill Duplechain was a finalist for the job when Henderson was hired and also is a past president. Ditto that for Marlin Ramsey, a former South Beauregard principal.
Assistant executive director Keith Alexander’s name has been mentioned, along with that of two current executive committee members, Richard Lavergne and Niles Riche, of Assumption. A former executive committee member, Haughton Principal Gene Couvillion, also has been included.
Possibilities may be plentiful, but time isn’t.
I appreciate the positive vibes my midweek column about the St. John-Episcopal junior varsity football game generated.
Not only should Episcopal be applauded for its role in allowing St. John’s Grant Cedotal, a freshman with autism, to score a touchdown. St. John also must be commended.
Many schools wouldn’t take on having a player with autism. Some, based on size and other factors, can’t do it. The Eagles have stepped forward and made a difference.
A reader offered another example of a school in East Texas that had its fan cheer for an opponent that was not blessed with fan support. Good stuff that we need more of.