Positive vibes at LHSAA task force meeting; some discussion about reuniting split football playoffs _lowres

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine

Could there be a move toward reuniting LHSAA schools?

That possibility emerged after the first LHSAA task force meeting held Wednesday at the LHSAA office.

“I believe that’s why we’re here,” Destrehan Principal Stephen Weber said. “I don’t think we can survive if we don’t get it back together. I really don’t.

“Since we split in football, which was something I spoke in favor of, people have been saying I’m the face of the split in my area. That was not my intention. My intention was to say ‘look we need to do something about the issues we have.’ I think we had a lot of positive discourse.”

The meeting lasted nearly four hours, but included a lunch break. A second meeting is planned for July in conjunction with the LHSCA Coaches Clinic. The meeting was not open to the media or the public, but LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine and spokespersons were available afterwards to discuss the meeting.

Bonine opened the meeting with a power point presentation that detailed what he’s learned since taking over the LHSAA’s top position nearly three months ago.

Bonine formed the task force as a way to find solutions to the select/nonselect school issues that have become increasing evident since a January 2013 vote to divide member schools into separate football playoffs for select (private, magnet, laboratory and some charter schools) and nonselect schools (traditional public schools).

Traditional public schools make up approximately 70 percent of the LHSAA’s member schools. Some have called for the split to widen to include other sports.

The make-up of the committee reflects the membership dynamic. More than 60 administrators and coaches were on hand for the meeting, along with two legislators. Destrehan’s Weber, Teurlings Catholic Principal Mike Boyer, Notre Dame-Crowley football coach Lewis Cook and West St. John football coach Robert Valdez were selected to speak for the group.

Enforcement of the LHSAA’s rules, including transfer rules, also was a key topic.

“It was very professional and points were taken,” Bonine said. “I think that (reuniting the school) came out loud and clear. I did hear that more from the select schools in the room. But I heard it enough from the nonselect schools that I came away with a positive feeling from it.

“What it comes down to is that until we’re ready to follow our own freaking rules, we can’t accomplish a lot.”

Boyer of Teurlings Catholic noted, “It was better than I anticipated. It’s the best meeting I’ve been to in years.”