A daylong Louisiana High School Athletic Association sportsmanship hearing ended with Bossier City-based Parkway High losing the right to host football playoff games in 2013, being placed on probation for one year and being ordered to pay the cost of the hearing.
One of the two figures at the heart of the Nov. 9 pregame dispute over a game itinerary and warm-up time vs. band performance time, Parkway Principal Nichole Bourgeois, was reprimanded by the committee of three principals who heard the case, also was placed on probation for one year and will be required to attend an LHSAA handbook certification class.
Live Oak High, which lodged the complaint after its head coach Barry “Tut” Musemeche was handcuffed, but not arrested, before the Class 5A bidistrict game was not sanctioned. Musemeche filed suit against Bourgeois, the Bossier Parish school system and law enforcement officials in Bossier City last week.
The committee also commended the coaching staffs and players for both schools for playing the game without a single incident or unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
Because of pending litigation, Bourgeois declined comment afterwards, according to school board attorney Melissa Losch.
“We are pleased with the outcome, but sad that this was such an unfortunate event,” LOHS Principal Tracy McRae said. “But we did feel like you have to stand up for your kids and for your coach and your faculty members. We were standing up for what’s right, and I believe the committee came back with a decision that was fair.”
Musemeche said, “I don’t rejoice. This doesn’t erase those images of me being walked off the field (in handcuffs). Those are forever. What I am glad of is the fact that the association commended the coaches and players for both teams. We may have fudged a rule by shaking hands before the game. (Parkway coach David Feaster) concurred. It was the right thing to do.”
McRae and Bourgeois took 90 minutes to present their opening arguments. Each side cited the other for unsportsmanlike acts.
Musemeche was handcuffed more than 15 minutes before the game when his team remained on the football field to warm up during a time that had been designated for the LOHS band to perform. Live Oak’s band deferred the time to the football team.
Both principals noted emails were sent between the schools before the game. During those emails, Parkway declined Live Oak’s request for its band to play at halftime because of its own halftime show, saying instead that LOHS could perform from 6:35 p.m. to 6:45 p.m.
Musemeche was handcuffed before 6:45 p.m., based on a time-stamped video Musemeche provided. The incident happened after Bourgeois said she and other school officials made at least 13 requests for the Live Oak team to leave the field. Musemeche said Feaster had agreed Live Oak could use its band’s time to warm up, but Feaster refuted that statement during Thursday’s hearing.
McRae said Parkway’s most recent opponent, Barbe-Lake Charles, was allowed to continue warming up on the baseball field — a courtesy not extended to Live Oak.
Committee member Lee Bellard of Church Point said the time-stamped video provided a turning point in the proceedings for him because it showed Musemeche was handcuffed before 6:45 when the Parkway band was supposed to perform.
“(Musemeche) did a good job with that,” Bellard said. “The times that we’ve been in the playoffs at my school, there’s always verbal communication. In this case, I think there might not have been enough physical communication.
“Maybe everybody is going to learn from it and maybe there are things we need to do from an LHSAA standpoint, maybe not a rule but something in the playoff bulletin to outline things. As hearings go, this one was mild. Most times you have two teams fined and players suspended. That didn’t happen here. You have to commend the coaches on how they handled things.”
Tioga’s Kim Bennett added, “What we hope is learned from this is the professionalism that must be maintained at all times between administrations and communication is vital in team athletics and that starts at the top. That’s the message we want to send.”
LaSalle’s Ronda Richardson said, “It’s all about communication. The entire schedule has to be worked out ahead of time with both schools.”
The testimony featured numerous contradictions, including Musemeche saying, “I never said a cuss word or pushed anybody. I told people we were going to be finished before their band came on the field. And we were. I will go to the grave knowing exactly what the Parkway principal said, ‘Cuff him … Cuff him, get him off the field.”
Bourgeois contended she did not order police to handcuff Musemeche, saying, “I asked that he (Musemeche) be removed from the field. How that was done was up to the discretion of the officers.”
Feaster said he reminded Musemeche of Bourgeois’ itinerary, which stated both teams were supposed to be off the field at 6:35 p.m. in a pregame phone call. Feaster’s written statement said Musemeche’s response was “That is not gonna happen.”
McRae’s statements also included social media items allegedly published by Parkway students indicated that they knew the schools had disagreed on terms for the bands to play and also that some knew the Live Oak coach would be arrested. One photo entered into evidence showed two Parkway students holding a set of handcuffs. Bourgeois told the committee she is not active on social media and was unaware of any posts.
Bourgeois and McRae said they never dreamed the game would lead to such controversy.
McRae closed by saying, “I’m sorry we’re here, but the actions against coach Musemeche and LOHS damaged our reputations.”