LHSAA notebook: Walk-up music back for baseball, softball; LHSAA chief Eddie Bonine says talk to schools if they have complaints about music _lowres

Advocate staff photo by BRAD BOWIE -- LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine

It’s fair to say that the LHSAA’s annual convention, set to begin Wednesday at the Crowne Plaza, may be one of the most important ever.

While the classification-related items will make headlines, other items, including approval of pay raises for officials, also will be front and center.

“The important thing is that when we leave next Friday, whatever the vote is, that we come together,” LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine said at more than area meeting last week. “We have to agree to disagree and be ready to move on, regardless of what is passed.”

The annual convention begins Wednesday with an executive committee meeting set for 1 p.m. The Coca-Cola convention luncheon and class meetings for principals in each of the LHSAA’s seven classifications highlight the Thursday schedule. Class meetings, including a highly notable Class 2A meeting, are set for 2:45 p.m. Thursday. The convention closes with the general assembly vote set for 9:15 a.m. Friday.

Classification items and questions about whether the split football championships approved in 2013 violated the organization’s constitution was a powder-keg issue during six area meetings across the state. The most vocal advocates of the current split and two proposals that would expand the split to include basketball, baseball and softball are from north Louisiana.

The under card is the proposals to approve pay raises for officials in several sports that were put in place last fall to avert a planned work stoppage. Those proposals will be voted on as a group.

Assistant executive director Keith Alexander stressed the importance of approving the pay raises, which would be locked in for four years.

Alexander discussed new standards for accountability for officials and noted that funding has been set aside to allow more evaluation of officials across the state.

The LHSAA’s Jan. 15 announcement that a legal opinion from new LHSAA attorney Mark Boyer deemed the 2013 split select/nonselect schools split in football unconstitutional leaves much in doubt.

Boyer and Parliamentarian Brian LeJeune will be involved in the process of determining what will or won’t be heard this week. Winnfield Principal Jane Griffin, author of the 2013 split plan, points to another legal opinion the LHSAA received in 2013 that deemed the split legal.

As it stands there are five possible classification options that may be voted on:

Many Principal Norman Booker’s proposal adds basketball, baseball and softball to the current split in Class 2A only, effective immediately.

Booker’s proposal to split all classifications in the same sports, effective immediately.

A proposal by Mandeville Principal Bruce Bundy to put LHSAA schools back together in the traditional five-class system for football.

An LHSAA proposal that would divide schools into playoff divisions based on their rural-metro status, providing six championships (three rural, three metro).

A proposal by three executive committee members would create a 32-team 6A super class for football.

Other proposals to note include:

A proposal by Catholic-New Iberia Principal Ray Simon that would give Bonine the power to declare a program elite and place that school in a higher classification in a specific sport, with approval from the executive committee.

A proposal that would add a fourth assistant executive director to the LHSAA staff. Changing the LHSAA’s classification process so that schools are classified every four years instead of two also is proposed. Multiple proposals that will increase the fines for schools caught violating LHSAA recruiting rules and failing to comply with LHSAA penalties also are on the agenda.

A proposal from several principals, including Brusly’s Walt Lemoine, adds Class 3A to the baseball schools that would have best-of-three playoffs in the second round and quarterfinals.