Fambrough: Questions abound and little time for LHSAA to find answers _lowres

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine

Several times during the LHSAA’s summer meeting, Executive Director Eddie Bonine prefaced a statement by saying, “In Eddie’s World this is how …”

Suffice to say that in “Eddie’s World” things move very fast these days. Bonine shows no signs of slowing down after just over three months on the job. That’s probably a good thing, considering the number of major issues still hanging in the balance for the LHSAA.

Credit the former baseball pitcher with a win and a save during the past seven days. The apparent success of the first LHSAA Task Force meeting to address the organization’s select/nonselect school issues was a win.

Yet that is now so last week.

Convincing the executive committee to change the language of the LHSAA’s eligibility rules without the approval of the full membership qualifies as a save. Some committee members expressed misgivings during the LHSAA summer meeting that ended Tuesday.

But the move will likely stave off the latest campaign in the legislature to change an LHSAA rule or policy. It provides subvarsity competition for freshmen who cross parish boundaries to attend a new school and offers a compromise to House Bill 457, which would have offered a form of freshman free agency.

Impressed? You might want to hold that virtual round of applause for now. Up next is the burgeoning conflict with the Louisiana High School Officials Association. Bonine knows a thing or two about bringing heat from his days as a baseball player. A 95 mph fastball may be the equivalent to the high heat the LHSOA is bringing with its demands for pay raises and respect.

There you have it, the unholy trio of select/nonselect, the legislature and a statewide officials emergency. Actually, Bonine has it and all in the space of just over 90 days.

The LHSOA’s demand for schools to sign contracts that would pay officials at a higher rate in all sports violates the LHSAA’s bylaws. That adds to the drama. The contract saga comes just over four months after member principals voted down proposed pay raises in two sports and took away travel pay for rained-out games in two others.

It also continues a pattern of promised and/or requested pay raises that have fallen by the wayside in the past eight years.

Bonine could follow the pattern of calling a special meeting to get member principals to approve pay raises. Though Bonine is interested in educating people about the LHSAA’s past history with officials, he has no interest in repeating it.

Instead, Bonine plans to start negotiating with principals while speaking with a group of school superintendents next week. There will be more talks with LHSOA President Paul LaRosa, who addressed the committee Monday.

A compromise doesn’t seem likely. The officials have their issues with pay and the schools have theirs while trying to generate money to pay officials. Of course, I felt the same thing about the select/nonselect issues and the legislative situation.

Now the calendar has flipped to June. The fall sports season gets closer every day.

Yet another incentive for Bonine to keep moving. Yep, that’s Eddie’s World.