He acknowledges there are some “moving parts” to negotiate before he can begin work as the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s executive director, but Eddie Bonine is excited about the challenge.
Bonine confirmed Monday he has given the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association his notice to accept the LHSAA’s top job. News outlets in Nevada are reporting Bonine already has agreed to a four-year LHSAA contract.
The LHSAA has scheduled a 10 a.m. Saturday news conference at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in conjunction with its Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Prep Classic football championships.
Bonine also said he believes student-athletes must be put first as the LHSAA looks to resolve its continuing tensions between public and private schools.
“High school athletics is about the students/athletes,” Bonine said. “We owe it to them to take some time to get this right.”
Bonine also talked about his desire to move to Louisiana and the LHSAA.
“The directors in the federation (National Federation of State High School Associations) are a close-knit group,” Bonine said. “There are only 51 of us, and the odds of one of those jobs coming open are huge.
“But to not only have an opening but then to have it in Louisiana, where my wife has family, makes the odds even higher. I knew right away it was a job I was interested in applying for,” Bonine added. “I did some research and was hoping to get an interview. The more I looked into it, the more it was something I really wanted.”
The 57-year-old Bonine was one of five candidates the LHSAA executive committee interviewed last Monday. Bonine noted that his wife, Christine, is a native of the New Orleans area and has relatives there.
Lutcher High football coach/athletic director Tim Detillier, Haughton Principal Gene Couvillion, Port Barre Principal William Duplechain and Rhonda Dreibelbis, a former coach and administrator who served six years an LHSAA assistant executive director, were the others interviewed.
Both sides are still working out the logistics of how and when Bonine can join the LHSAA, something LHSAA President Vic Bonnaffee of Central Catholic-Morgan City noted.
“We are in negotiations with an individual to take the executive director’s job,” Bonnaffee said. “We are very optimistic that everything will be worked out soon, which is why we’ve scheduled the press conference. Until someone is in that chair, Jimmy Anderson remains the interim executive director.”
Bonine, whose Nevada salary of $150,000 is on public record, said the NIAA Board of Control, which operates like the LHSAA executive committee, is in the process of calling an emergency meeting to address his situation. He is required to give the board 90 days notice.
Because of Nevada’s opening meetings laws, Bonine said that Board of Control meeting might not happen until next week. Bonine said he has gotten positive feedback on his decision from board members he has spoken with.
Whether or not Bonine will be required to work the full 90 days is part of what will be negotiated. Bonine said he has discussed how he can attend area meetings in advance of the LHSAA’s area meetings before January’s crucial convention.
Bonine said he has discussed the LHSAA’s private/public school tensions with members of the executive committee and is gathering information about Louisiana and its schools.
Those tensions led to a split of its football championships into separate playoff divisions for select (private, full magnet, laboratory, some charter schools) and nonselect (traditional public schools) in 2013.
Three January proposals by Many High Principal Norman Booker III are aimed at widening the split to include basketball, baseball and softball. Two other proposals are aimed at reducing or eliminating the football split.
“Some of the issues Louisiana has with charter schools, home-school students and differences between public and private schools are things we’ve had to address in Nevada,” Bonine said. “Now I do understand that Louisiana is different culturally and in a lot of other ways from Nevada. That has to be taken into consideration.
“What we’ve got to do is get together and try to find some things that work to bring things back together. You’ve got to have some compromises, knowing that you’re not going to make everyone happy.”
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The Eddie Bonine file
Current job: Executive director of Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association since January 2007.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in 1986 from Grand Canyon University; master’s from University of Phoenix.
Coaching experience: Five years coaching football, baseball and softball.
Administrative experience: 15 years as a school principal/administrator in Arizona and Nevada; senior director of student services for Washoe County (Nevada) public schools; vice president of NIAA’s board of control.
Honors, etc.: Nevada Principal of the Year in 1997; serving four-year term on the National Federation of State High School Associations Board of Directors representing the West region (Nevada, Arizona, California and Hawaii).
Miscellaneous: Played minor league baseball; his son, Eddie, pitched for the Detroit Tigers from 2008-10.