Questions abound as the Louisiana High School Athletic Association begins its annual convention Wednesday with an executive committee meeting at the Crowne Plaza.
The three-day event starts with the 9 a.m. executive meeting and continues through Friday, when principals are scheduled to vote on proposals that could alter the current makeup of the organization.
Incoming LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine is the guest speaker at Thursday’s Coca-Cola Convention Luncheon. Much of the focus will be on how member principals act on a series of proposals regarding split playoffs for football and possibly other sports at its 9 a.m. Friday general assembly.
LHSAA President Vic Bonnaffee of Central Catholic said it is imperative for the organization to do three things through its actions at the annual meeting.
Bonnaffee said he wants to see the LHSAA establish a stronger working relationship with the state Legislature, work to make the organization’s sponsors feel comfortable with the product provided and to address some financial issues.
“All three of these are significant if you’re talking about the future of this organization,” Bonnaffee said. “I felt very encouraged by what I saw at the area meetings. You have to have honest discussions in order for any democratic process to work.
“My hope is the principals understand the need for the things we discussed.”
One key component to the plan Bonnaffee and others introduced at last week’s area meetings across the state involves tabling classification-related proposals in order to give Bonine, who begins work in March, the chance to find a solution to its public (nonselect) vs. private (select) school issues. Bonnaffee said delaying votes on those issues would also help the LHSAA’s stance with the legislature and sponsors. A refinance of the LHSAA building also is a likely topic.
The agenda includes three proposals by Many Principal Norman Booker III that would extend the LHSAA’s current football championships split along select vs. nonselect school guidelines to include baseball, softball and basketball.
Two other proposals would bring schools back together in some fashion. One proposal would unite schools for football and would add a 6A class for Louisiana’s largest schools, along with others who want to play above their enrollment-based class.
Another proposal from the LHSAA’s School Relations Committee would bring select/nonselect schools together for football in Classes 5A and 4A but would also allow for select/nonselect football playoffs in other classes.
The Louisiana Football Coaches Association has a plan that could be a substitute motion for the school relations committee proposal.
The view of administrators in the Baton Rouge area covers a wide spectrum.
“I’d like to see Mr. Bonine get a chance to work and see what he can do,” said Redemptorist’s Terence Williams, immediate past president of the Louisiana High School Coaches Association. “In order to do that, people will have to look at what’s best for the association and not just their school.”
University High Athletic Director Jill White doesn’t want to see the split widen to other sports. She’d like to see schools focus on their schools instead of rule changes.
“We want to be the best school we can be in every area,” White said. “We’re a finalist to be a Blue Ribbon school academically, and we’ve won state titles in athletics.
“We don’t want to see a split. I’d like to see other schools work to do that by bringing in the best people they can to improve their situation academically and athletically.”
Belaire Principal Roy Walker said he plans to study the agenda and talk to his coaches before making any decisions on how to vote.
“I’m on the side of what’s best for kids,” Walker said.