If the high school sports climate was different, Vic Bonnaffee’s move into the role of Louisiana High School Athletic Association president might be celebrated. The Central Catholic of Morgan City principal is the first private school administrator/president in the LHSAA’s 93-year history.
This twist of fate that comes not quite two years after LHSAA member principals voted to split football championships into separate divisions for public/nonselect schools and select schools, a group primarily made up of private schools.
As the possibility for proposals to split the LHSAA in all sports looms large going into the annual convention in January, Bonnaffee is stressing the importance of communication.
“We’ve got a few months and my hope is that we’ll remain positive and working to resolve issues,” Bonnaffee said. “I’m also a realist. The principle of thirds usually applies.
“You have a third of the people who are vocal and want to go back to the way we were. There’s another third that likes things the way they are, so they say nothing. And there’s another third that doesn’t care and they have nothing to say. So you have to proceed carefully.”
Bonnaffee, who was the LHSAA’s vice president, moved into the president’s role when Ouachita Parish’s Todd Guice resigned from the committee in June.
Before Guice stepped down, the executive committee issued a position statement against any additional split of the LHSAA.
Bonnaffee urged coaches to be part of the solution to the LHSAA’s select/nonselect issues when he addressed the Louisiana High School Coaches Association’s general assembly last month.
As another school year/sports year begins Bonnaffee knows the issues and undercurrents.
The executive committee will broach key issues when it meets again in October. In the meantime, Bonnaffee said he is encouraging the LHSAA to keep school administrators and coaches updated. He’s suggested using social media and sending more messages to schools about issues and deadlines.
“We all realize how important this year is for the LHSAA,” Bonnaffee said. “The (Louisiana) Legislature is watching us and so are the schools. It’s a matter of trust — we have to rebuild that.”
Moving on up?
Monday is the first official practice date for LHSAA fall sports, including football. There is a lesser known fact. Monday also is the deadline for schools to declare their plans to play up to a higher classification/division for football.
Two Lafayette area Class 4A/Division II schools, St. Thomas More and Teurlings Catholic, announced their intentions to play up to Division I at the executive committee’s June meeting.
Speculation that three other notable select schools, John Curtis, Evangel Christian and Calvary Baptist, might opt to play up has been a chat room staple all summer.
Is there any truth to the rumors? Could be. Comments by Curtis coach J.T. Curtis indicate there is.
“It’s pretty wide open right now,” Curtis said when asked if he was leaning more towards one way or the other. “We are going to try to look and try to get some information about who is going where. Obviously we are going to try to compete in an environment where we are going to have an opportunity to play against good teams. “And we would like to try to have a full playoff bracket.”
Arbitration plans are pending in the case of Episcopal football-soccer player Clement Mubungirwa.
LHSAA Executive Director Kenny Henderson confirmed that Episcopal has completed the steps needed for arbitration, which was mandated by a law the Legislature passed in the spring.
Legislators passed the law after Mubungirwa, who turned 19 last month, lost an appeal for an added year of eligibility in a vote of the LHSAA’s executive committee. Mubungirwa is 55 days too old to play in 2014-15 based on a rule that dates to the 1950s, which the LHSAA has never overturned.
The LHSAA is finalizing arrangements with the American Arbitration Association to handle the arbitration. The new law requires the LHSAA to use the American Arbitration Association.