Since the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s executive committee and now former Executive Director Kenny Henderson announced they were mutually “severing ties” with each other Thursday the reaction has been swift and intense.
Henderson’s critics applauded the move. Others were left scratching their heads.
Now the LHSAA finds itself at a crossroads. The state’s governing body for high school athletics is at the corner of “What the heck just happened?” and “Where in the heck are we going?”
Timing often means everything in sports, and the timing of this move is not good. The LHSAA is about three months away from what figures to be another landmark convention.
As the organization completes the second year of its split football playoff format that has driven an even deeper wedge between public and private schools, one or more proposals to split the association in all sports are expected on the January agenda.
Once the convention is done, the LHSAA will take on its two-year classification process, perhaps not knowing what will happen with its private school membership if the split is extended to other sports.
Over the next couple of months, we’ll see how much of a brave new world there is out there for the LHSAA. And more to the point, just how brave and bold its leadership can be.
Assistant executive directors Keith Alexander, B.J. Guzzardo and Ronda Richardson are set to share the executive director’s duties until Henderson’s successor is picked, hopefully by the end of the year.
All eyes will be on the seven-member search committee led by past president Todd Guice of Ouachita Parish High. LHSAA President Vic Bonnaffee of Central Catholic-Morgan City will be scrutinized too since he is the first private school principal to lead the organization.
Just as there is speculation about what happened to bring Henderson’s seven-year tenure to a seemingly abrupt end, there also are rumors about who might apply for the job.
Two names that quickly emerged were Monroe Schools Superintendent Brent Vidrine and Teurlings Catholic Principal Mike Boyer. Whether either career educator chooses to apply remains to be seen. Both represent different things the LHSAA embodies and have served the organization well.
Vidrine is a past president. He also was the author of the first proposal to split the LHSAA into separate divisions for public and private schools in the 1990s.
Boyer has spent his career in the Catholic education system, is a former executive committee member and is the chairman of the School Relations Committee that has worked to alleviate issues between public and private schools.
A review of Henderson’s tenure must be done as the LHSAA moves forward. A new, modern LHSAA building and numerous technological upgrades were pluses.
Some think the split and public relations nightmares like the recent cases of Episcopal’s Clement Mubungirwa and Livonia High tipped the scales. Pending litigation, like the nearly three-year-old breach-of-contract lawsuit brought by Varsity Event Management, also is on the list. Many corporate changes at the top are tied to money, and the LHSAA is a business. Who’s to say for sure?
But as the LHSAA prepares to pick only the fifth leader in its history that dates more than 90 years, the executive committee must decide what it wants in an executive director.
Henderson preferred to manage and wanted the principals to make tough calls, including a stance for or against the split. Would a person who champions the issues be a better fit?
Yes, the LHSAA has more tough adult issues to tackle. I just hope no one speeds through the most important crossroads of all.
It’s the one that leads to “What’s in the best interest of student athletes.”