Brusly High Principal Walt Lemoine described it as a “good day.”
Was what transpired on Thursday at the LHSAA’s annual convention enough to convince principals not to expand the organization’s playoff split? Stay tuned.
“Overall, I came away with a good feeling,” Lemoine said. “I’m optimistic. As far as (Friday), anything could happen. We’ll have to see.
“The people who want it split are where they are and won’t budge. So are the people who want to delay for a year. It’s that other one-third that may decide it.”
The three-day LHSAA convention concludes with a 9 a.m. Friday general assembly session at the Crowne Plaza in which member principals have options. Principals could vote to expand the current select/nonselect playoffs for football to include baseball, softball and basketball or they could vote to reunite schools in some fashion for all sports or delay making a decision.
Another option, giving incoming Executive Director Eddie Bonine a year to develop long-term solutions for the LHSAA’s private vs. public schools issues, is what executive committee members like Lemoine want to see.
One key figure in the proposed split expansion spoke for the first time Thursday. Many Principal Norman Booker III did not use the 2A meeting as a platform to discuss his proposals to extend the split playoffs to include baseball, softball and basketball. Booker did get involved in some roundtable discussions early in the day.
“My rationale behind my proposals is to more or less align those sports — basketball, softball and baseball with football,” Booker said after the 2A meeting. “My concession is to amend those to make them match whatever passes in football.
“For 2A this is a slam dunk because we’ve had Curtis and Evangel with us. If 5A and 4A decide they’d like to play together, I’d have no problem with that. The enrollment processes for private and public schools is from one end of the spectrum to the other. I just think the safest and equitable way to compete in the playoffs is to be separated.”
The Dunham School Headmaster Steve Eagleton offered an opposing view.
“I’d like to see a collective task force to study the split and see if it’s working for the LHSAA,” Eagleton said. “We’re not talking about the root issue, which is whether the nonpublic schools continue to be a viable part of the LHSAA.”
Bonine renewed his push to delay action so that long-term solutions can be found. He spoke about forming a large committee made up of private and public school representatives that would work to hammer out solutions over the next six months.
“Everywhere I go, people are having nice bold conversations with each other,” Bonine said. “Well we need to get that all together for the common good.
“We’ve been in a split for two years, and we keep coming back to try to make adjustments to it. If we’re doing that, then why don’t we just stop and make an adjustment that we can all live with instead keep trying to adjust as we go.”
An afternoon round table discussion on the LHSAA’s issues attracted a standing-room-only crowd. Other workshops also were well attended.
A proposal currently not on the agenda was the most talked about. A Louisiana Football Coaches Association plan would offer four nonselect divisions for public schools and three select divisions for private schools.
The LFCA plan is set to be offered as a substitute motion for a School Relations Committee proposal that would reunite 5A and 4A schools for football and have select/nonselect championships for 3A and below.
“I plan to talk to some colleagues to see what they’re thinking,” McKinley Principal Herman Brister Jr. said. “If he (Bonine) forms a committee to work on this, I hope it represents everyone. There’s a lot involved … what’s best for your school vs. what’s best for everybody. I hope what’s best for our students doesn’t get lost.”