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

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

Finding an analogy to illustrate the past 48 hours with the LHSAA is challenging.

The famous “Dewey beats Truman” headline comes to mind. So does the Bobby Ewing’s still-alive shower scene from “Dallas.”

Here’s the more direct approach: For the second time in four years, a major faction in the LHSAA had the rug pulled out from under it.

Remember 2013, when private schools were shocked by the vote that split the LHSAA’s football championships into select and nonselect groups? Not a great feeling.

Now those who championed the split and would like to see it expand to other sports have to feel the same. Finding out through a news conference that the LHSAA’s new attorney’s opinion is the action violated the LHSAA constitution is like a punch in the gut.

Where does the LHSAA go from here? That’s a good question, and all we have now is speculation.

Did Friday’s announcement put an end to the split and put LHSAA select/nonselect schools back into five traditional classes for football like they were for more than 20 years?

Not exactly. LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine and attorney Mark Boyer stopped just short of saying that.

Do any of us expect someone to jump up and say, “The split is dead; long live a unified LHSAA?” That’s not reality, and it’s not where the LHSAA and its schools are right now.

Time is of the essence. The LHSAA’s annual convention is less than two weeks away.

I have no idea what will happen, but I believe certain things must happen.

First, a one-year contingency plan needs to be put into place with the LHSAA executive committee taking the lead role. LHSAA schools are in the middle of a two-year classification cycle. So taking a year for a “reboot” seems logical.

Remember, the agenda is set and nothing can be added. Sort out the constitutional issues, let everyone propose their plans and, dare I say it, possible compromises.

This sounds like “kicking the can down the road.” Under the circumstances, is anything else fair?

You have Many Principal Norman Booker’s proposals to split at least Class 2A and perhaps the rest into separate championships for basketball, baseball and softball. Because Booker’s plan did not go through the executive committee — just as the football split didn’t follow that article of the constitution — it likely would be shot down.

So you have more angry people. Another reason to consider choices carefully.

Would the contingency plan mean going back to five classes for a year, keeping the split or perhaps taking on the LHSAA’s metro/rural proposal as a pilot program, which is already on the agenda?

Skeptics could say using a legal opinion to likely nullify the split is nothing more than a power play by Bonine and the LHSAA to assume total control. They’re saying the fix was in — the LHSAA gets what it wants and goes back to five classes for football. Or perhaps they’ll go to the rural-metro plan.

A few other things must not get lost in the shuffle. If pay raises for officials in several sports aren’t approved on Friday morning, don’t expect to see officials calling games Friday night.

Several proposals address the fact that the LHSAA has used parish boundaries and not traditional attendance zones. Some people want to return to attendance zones, which makes sense.

Another proposal would give Bonine the power to deem programs elite and order them to play in a higher classification in a specific sport. Would that be too much power?

To me, it all starts with the executive committee. I said the group punted by not making key decisions after the 2013 split vote. History shouldn’t repeat itself. There needs to be a plan in place quickly.