Eddie Bonine ready for area meetings _lowres

Advocate photo by VERONICA DOMINACH -- Incoming LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine speaks at a news conference in November.

BOSSIER CITY — Incoming Executive Director Eddie Bonine ended the first Louisiana High School Athletic Association area meeting with words that may be strangely prophetic.

“We are good,” Bonine asked. “The proof is in the pudding.”

Principals, coaches and administrators on hand for the 21/2-hour Shreveport area meeting at Airline High said they were impressed with Bonine’s presentation.

However, coming to an agreement on how to handle the LHSAA’s public vs. private school issues may still be another matter. The Shreveport meeting was the first of six area meetings that will be held around the state over the next three days. The LHSAA’s annual convention is Jan, 28-30 at the Crowne Plaza.

Bonine and Interim Executive Director Jimmy Anderson asked the group to delay a serious move toward splitting championships in sports other than football. That delay would give Bonine time to study the issues and help the group find a solution to its issues. More than 90 coaches/administrators attended the Shreveport area meeting.

“I’ll tell you this is something we don’t need right now,” Anderson told the group. “We’ve alienated some people. We need to go back and mend some fences with people. This can cause major problems with the legislators and our sponsors. We need to keep those people on our side.”

Anderson’s remarks came as he started to review the first of three proposals by Many Principal Norman Booker III that would split the LHSAA in baseball, basketball and softball. He also noted that adding championships for select/nonselect schools in those sports would be a hardship for some sites currently hosting events. Anderson said the expanded split would bring 12 title games in those sports compared to nine in football.

Parkway High football coach David Feaster quickly responded, saying “This is the same thing that was said about football. Anything that those other sites don’t want, Shreveport will be happy to take on. Shreveport would love to take on any football that New Orleans might not want or appreciate.”

Booker did not attend the meeting. Afterwards, Many assistant principal Moses Curtis said he liked what he heard in Bonine’s 23-minute address. However, he said Bonine’s address won’t change Many’s push to extend the split to other sports.

“We feel like splitting is in the best interest of all schools and students,” Curtis said. “I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t move forward with this. Some of the things that were cited, like losing sponsors, I think are all scare tactics. If we lose those sponsors, I feel sure there are other sponsors who will step forward and want to sponsor the LHSAA.”

In his address to the group, LHSAA President Vic Bonnaffee of Central Catholic noted the LHSAA could run the risk of losing sponsorships that fund 50 percent of its activities if the split is extended to other sports.

Benton Principal Mitch Downey expressed frustration with legislative interference. Afterwards, Downey said the key to whatever the next LHSAA step will be involves all LHSAA schools treating each other with respect. Bonine also said he is scheduled to meet with legislative leaders next week before the convention.

“I am proud to serve you,” Bonine told the group. “Whatever is passed in January, I’ll get behind and work with. I want to get a strategic plan in place and then it’s white board. Work on some solutions. Don’t use a permanent marker because that’s that’s hard to clean up.”

Airline Principal Jason Rowland, a member of the LHSAA Executive Committee, said he thought Bonine hit a “home run” with his address. Rowland said he’d like to see member schools give Bonine a chance to formulate solutions before voting for a more split championships.

“I understand why principals here feel the way they do,” Rowland said. “Principals in other areas may not feel that way, so we’ll have to see.”