LHSAA President Vic Bonnaffee started Thursday’s second classification meeting with an unusual announcement.
A minimum of 13 executive committee members were needed to make a quorum. Only 10 committee members were present because of lingering weather issues. That meant no official business, such as appeals, could be conducted.
However, there was plenty of discussion as principals and athletic directors voiced their opinions and offered alternatives to the LHSAA’s second classification plan during the two-hour meeting at the LHSAA office in Baton Rouge.
“I was impressed with the calmness of the group,” Bonnaffee said. “You know they’ve divided this thing up over the years using one idea and then used another idea. I really think the office staff needs to have those priorities listed in the handbook so they’ll know exactly what to do and make it more objective. Right now people feel it can be subjective.”
The longest debate involved Acadiana-area based District 5-2A with several schools arguing against the addition of Notre Dame, led by Catholic-New Iberia Athletic Director/football coach Brent Indest. The debate center around whether Notre Dame should be placed in the 5-2A league that includes eight football schools in Plan 2 or moved back to Lake Charles’ 4-2A.
When interim Executive Director Jimmy Anderson asked if subdividing the group for sports other than football would be a solution, the response was no.
“We knew there were going to be people who don’t agree with certain things and that’s what this meeting is about ... giving them a chance to say what they what they think,” Anderson said.
Presentations by Ascension Christian, Episcopal, Doyle and a combined group that featured E.D. White, St. James and Lutcher were also significant.
Episcopal Athletic Director Myra Mansur suggested either a north/south or east/west subdivision of the proposed 6-2A for sports other than football. That group includes Runnels. Meanwhile, Doyle Principal Tommy Hodges lobbied to have Runnels return to 7-2A, which would give that league 10 schools to prompt a subdivision for that district.
“It really doesn’t matter to us,” Runnels Athletic Director Tookie Johnson said after the meeting. “We’re in two proposals and we’ve been part of both districts. If push came to shove, I’d say we’d want to say we’d stay where we are, which is in 7-2A. Our main goal is to stay out of a large district.”
Ascension Christian Principal Mark Pellegrin cited safety concerns as a reason for his Gonzales-area school to be moved from District 6-1A into New Orleans-based 8-1A. Pellegrin said his players have suffered 18 concussions and made 12 trips to emergency rooms while competing in his previous BR district. In the past. ACH has competed well with 8-1A teams in jamboree and nondistrict games in the past.
“Most of our students come to us without a lot of experience, but they want to compete,” Pellegrin said.
Pellegrin also suggested that Varnado be moved into 6-1A from 8-1A, a move Varnado opposed. Other 8-1A schools spoke later and said they would accept both schools.
Lutcher Athletic/Director Tim Detillier reminded committee members that his school helped make a previous classification plan work by agreeing to cross the Mississippi River. “Please don’t make us cross the river for two more years,” Detillier said.
The revamped Plan 2 took Lutcher and St. James out of a New Orleans-area district and E.D. White and Donaldsonville out of a southeast/Acadiana area league and then added Brusly from what is currently 7-3A.
“It really doesn’t matter to us; the only issue is traffic,” Brusly football coach Erik Willis said. “I think you could argue traffic for any district in New Orleans or Baton Rouge. We had a good district last time and this would be a good district.”
Because there was no quorum, the committee couldn’t rule on Christian Life’s appeal of its placement in Class 2A. CLA is listed as the smallest 2A school based on the Oct. 1 enrollment figures used for classification and seeks a return to 1A.
Louisiana School for the Deaf lobbied for a move from Baton Rouge’s District 8-C to the New Orleans-based 9-C to help its girls program. LSD Assistant Principal Darren Gremillion said no 8-C teams have girls programs, which makes scheduling tough.
McKinley Principal Herman Brister Jr. said a personal emergency kept him from attending the meeting to speak on behalf of his 5A plan put all East Baton Rouge Parish schools together in one district and moving Livingston and Ascension Parish teams to another.
Brister said he was pleased Broadmoor moved from 4-5A to 5-5A in Plan 2.
“I just wanted to float something out there,” Brister said of his plan. “Maybe it’s something we’ll revisit later.”