Louisiana High School Athletic Association Executive Director Kenny Henderson offered one of the understatements of the year when asked about the agenda for this week’s summer meeting.
“We’re going to have some appeals and reports like we usually do,” Henderson said. “But I’ve tried to keep the agenda as clean and clear as possible, because we’ve got some major issues to deal with.”
The LHSAA’s summer meeting for its executive committee is set to begin at 8:30 a.m. Thursday at the LHSAA office in Baton Rouge with plenty of hot-button topics.
Henderson said no decision has been made on whether the executive committee will grant a second appeal to Episcopal’s Clement Mubungirwa.
In turn, the LHSAA board must wrestle with the legislation spawned by the committee’s March rejection of Episcopal’s first appeal to allow Mubungirwa to play in 2014-15 as a 19-year-old.
Nearly two weeks ago, the Legislature passed SB633 by Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, which will require the LHSAA to go to third-party arbitration in appeals of eligibility cases.
“We haven’t decided on whether we’re going to grant another appeal,” Henderson said. “Some key people who are involved in that decision were out of pocket this week. But we’ll have to make a decision by Monday in order to get everything in place so we can hear the appeal on Friday.”
Episcopal has submitted new information, which is required as the foundation for a second appeal. The LHSAA has not overturned its rule that prohibits 19-year-olds born before Sept. 1 from competing. The rule dates to the 1950s.
Henderson said the LHSAA has been gathering legal opinions about how to handle the arbitration law that has been sent to Gov. Bobby Jindal.
“There are still a lot of questions about where we go with this (arbitration law),” Henderson said. “And that’s obviously another major topic the committee will have to discuss. We need to get their input.”
Other major points during the two-day meeting will be the latest report and recommendations from the School Relations Committee and plans for the 2014 Prep Classic football championships.
In March, the School Relations Committee submitted a proposal that would offer separate subdivisions within the LHSAA for its select and nonselect schools. The proposal came in response to a growing sentiment that the LHSAA should split into separate divisions for select schools, a group that is dominated by private schools, and nonselect or traditional public schools.
The School Relations Committee was supposed to meet last week, but could not because several committee member had scheduling conflicts. The committee led by Teurlings Catholic’s Mike Boyer is scheduled to meet behind closed doors Wednesday.
At that time, the committee will review the results of an LHSAA survey sent out to member-school principals earlier this month.
Principals were asked four questions. One question asked if the principal wanted things to stay the way they are now with separate select/nonselect championships for football only, if they wanted the LHSAA to hold combined championships in all sports as it did before 2013-14 or if they wanted the LHSAA split for all sports. The fourth question asked principals for their suggestions.
Henderson said more than 200 of the LHSAA’s 389 member-schools responded to the survey and surveys would still be accepted if they are sent in this weekend.
“It’s important for us to know what the schools are thinking so we don’t wind up going down a road we shouldn’t go down,” Henderson said.
The executive committee also must ponder what road to take with its split football championships this fall. The suggestion that the number of select championships be reduced was panned by select schools.
With the LHSAA destined to host eight title games, the idea of holding championships on separate weekends at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in 2014 could be an answer.
“We’ll have to confirm that the Superdome has the dates available,” Henderson said, “But having the select schools play one weekend and the nonselect schools the next could work. The schools we’ve talked to seem to like the idea. As it is, most of the select schools are finished a week before the nonselect schools.”
The executive committee also will award championship sites for softball and golf. Longtime host Sulphur is the lone site to submit a proposal to host softball. Henderson said the most recent site, Shreveport, is one of three or four sites vying to host the LHSAA’s girls and boys golf tournaments.