An amended bill that passed through the Legislature’s House Committee on Natural Resources and Environment on Wednesday is the latest measure proposed to garner another year of eligibility for Episcopal football and soccer player Clement Mubungirwa.
What was originally HB609 was amended to become HB 1276 during the committee meeting by Rep. Neil C. Abramson, D-New Orleans and passed by a 14-0 margin. Abramson, an Episcopal graduate, had proposed HB1174, which would require all 19-year-old seniors who are academically eligible in 2014-15 to remain eligible for athletics regardless of their birthday.
Wednesday’s amended bill would prohibit the state of Louisiana from leasing the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to the Louisiana High School Athletic Association in 2014-15 if Mubungirwa remains ineligible.
The bill does not mention Mubungirwa by name but does list his specific circumstances as an immigrant from a refugee camp in Uganda in 2007.
The bill also would prohibit the LHSAA from holding separate football playoffs for select and nonselect schools as it had in 2013. Attempts to contact Abramson on the House floor and at his office to discuss the legislation were unsuccessful.
The LHSAA has held its Prep Classic football championships in the Superdome every year except one since 1981. That exception was 2005 when the facility was closed following Hurricane Katrina. The LHSAA has a contract to host the event at the Superdome this fall.
Mubungirwa turns 19 in July, nearly two months before the LHSAA’s cutoff date for 19-year-old eligibilty. Only 19-year-olds born on Sept. 1 or later are allowed to compete in LHSAA sports during the school year, a rule that has remained the same in the LHSAA bylaws since 1955.
Episcopal’s appeal to the LHSAA’s executive committee for Mubungirwa was denied last month. Another piece of legislation, SB633 by Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, was rejected by a small margin Monday. Claitor’s bill, which would require third-party arbitration in cases like Mubungirwa’s, fell two votes short of approval by the Senate and could be considered again.
Livonia appeal set
Livonia High will appeal sanctions in baseball and football that were levied by the LHSAA on Wednesday during a phone teleconference set for 1 p.m. Friday, according to the LHSAA office.
An LHSAA investigation of a possible violation that was self-reported by Livonia led to a ninth-grade student being ruled ineligible.
The student in question participated in 18 baseball games this spring and seven football games last fall. Penalties listed in an LHSAAA news release also included Livonia returning the trophy given after it finished as the Class 3A runner-up in football, forfeiting seven football games and a $250 fine.
Before the forfeits, Livonia’s baseball team was 22-4 and rated 10th in the LHSAA’s unofficial baseball power ratings in Class 3A.
An appeal of baseball sanctions released Thursday for Mandeville High may also be appealed during the conference call. Mandeville was cited for a violation of the LHSAA’s transfer rules and was ordered to forfeit eight games and pay a $200 fine.