The immediate takeaway from a Monday meeting that attracted select and nonselect school representatives offered two perspectives.
On one hand, guest speaker Paul Rainwater talked about building a new organization for private schools, saying he’ll have the framework ready as soon as May.
On the other, there were school representatives who called the meeting an informational tool, days after the LHSAA voted to expand its championship split to include basketball (boys and girls), baseball and softball.
“Putting together structure and framework for organizations is something I do,” said Rainwater, a former chief of staff in former Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration. “I’ve been contacted by some private schools, parents and other groups, including potential sponsors, interested in starting another association.
“The purpose of the meeting was to gauge the interest in starting another association. The plan we have is an aggressive one. My plan is to have a constitution and a structure ready by May. We’ve got other meetings set up. Some that will include other groups.”
A group of 13 schools signed a registration list for the meeting at the home of local businessman Charlie Dawson. Rainwater said there were other schools present that did not sign in. He declined to identify those schools. Another meeting is planned in two weeks.
Sportsnola.com had a story Wednesday that said representatives attended from Calvary Baptist, Catholic High-Baton Rouge, The Dunham School, Episcopal, Evangel Christian, Metairie Park Country Day, Newman, Parkview Baptist, St. Louis Catholic, St. Michael, St. Thomas More, Teurlings Catholic and University High.
Representatives from Central and Zachary, both independent public school districts, also attended.
“It was for informational purposes only,” Zachary Principal Joe LeBlanc said. “I went to hear what was said.
“The structure of high school sports is changing. I think the vote shows that there are a number of public-school principals, especially in the Baton Rouge area, who didn’t vote for the split. None of us are sure where this might leave their schools.”
Parkview Baptist Athletic Director Kenny Guillot and Dunham Principal Steve Eagleton agreed.
“I don’t think there is any rush to judgment,” Guillot said. “A lot of people are frustrated, but this wasn’t like three years ago when there were meetings and people were angry.
“This was about looking at different options that might be out there for us. And to see how many schools might be interested.”
Eagleton said, “We went to meetings like this three years ago to learn about structure and other organizations. Our desire has been to be part of the LHSAA. … That’s why we’ve still been seated at the table. We know that we need to look at what might be in the best interest of our students moving forward.”
Teurlings Catholic Principal Mike Boyer said the meeting provided schools on hand with important information about how to structure and build an organization.
Boyer said he pointed out two important facts to the schools. The first is the National Federation of State High School Associations has just one member in each state, and that the LHSAA is that member.
Boyer also told the group that LHSAA schools are only allowed to play other NFHS members, which is why no LHSAA schools play Mississippi Association of Independent Schools members.
“I know there are plans for other meetings, including one in two weeks,” Boyer said. “There’s not much else to say.”