Fambrough: Questions abound and little time for LHSAA to find answers _lowres

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

Politicians and world leaders often search for days, perhaps even months, for just the right catch phrase to use during a major meeting or summit.

LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine found his during last week’s first task force meeting to address the organization’s select/nonselect school issues.

“Coach Pete Boudreaux (of Catholic High) is one of those guys who has been around a long time and he did a lot of listening,” Bonine said. “Near the end of the meeting, he told the group a lot of what he’d heard were adult issues and he asked, ‘What are we going to do for kids?’

“I like that a lot, and I’m going to use it. I’m going to ask, ‘What are we going to do for kids?’ ”

Bonine might get plenty of chances to invoke his catch phrase once the executive committee’s summer meeting begins at 8 a.m. Monday at the LHSAA office. The two-day meeting will provide a backdrop to discuss and deal with key issues. Two-year championship bids for baseball, boys and girls basketball, cheerleading and powerlifting are set to be awarded.

The annual meeting will include the typical list of reports on past championship events and other events, including the task force meeting.

Things will get off to a fast start with Bonine’s “director’s time” set for Monday morning. The status of the 2016 wrestling tournament, an ongoing conflict with officials and some staff-related issues will be key points for Bonine right off the bat.

The discussion will start with the wrestling tourney awarded to Bossier City’s CenturyLink Center on a 13-5 vote by the executive committee in March. Bonine has not yet signed the contract for the two-day tournament and will address several concerns.

Those concerns start with wrestling coaches who have voiced their complaints. Bonine and his staff have received letters from numerous wrestling schools voicing their concerns about moving the tourney away from the Interstate 10 corridor, where most wrestling schools are located. Baton Rouge’s River Center was second in the bidding.

Longtime tournament director James Ravannack’s decision not to work the tournament in north Louisiana is a major point. Ravannack, the director of Louisiana Wrestling and president of USA Wrestling, has provided much of the equipment needed for the tourney at little or no cost and also has managed the season-long weight management program on a volunteer basis.

“There is some information about the tournament, some developments I think the committee needs to be aware of,” Bonine said. “The cost involved is likely to go up, based on the equipment.

“They may ultimately decide to stay with Bossier City. If that happens, I hope we can get Jim involved again a couple of years down the road.”

The evolution of the LHSAA staff also will be discussed. Bonine met with Louisiana High School Coaches Association officers last week about the LHSCA director’s job held by Gary Duhe for the past two years.

Duhe was informed earlier this month that the position would be suspended, and he has since accepted the boys basketball coach job at Live Oak High. Bonine said the LHSCA is working on a job description for the position and a decision on how to proceed is pending.

LHSAA assistant director Ronda Richardson is leaving the staff to return to the Alexandria area when her contract runs out next month for personal reasons. The LHSAA’s law firm is accepting applications for Richardson’s position.

Also among Bonine’s discussion points is the contract proposal the Louisiana High School Officials Association has sent to LHSAA schools, which dictate high pay rates in just about all sports.

“The (LHSOA) contract is in violation of our by-laws,” Bonine said. “And it’s my understanding that 50 schools may have already signed it, so that is something we definitely have to address.”

Bonine also will discuss pending legislation that could open up ninth-grade eligibility, allowing freshmen to be eligible at a wider range of schools.

Two-year championship bids for baseball, boys and girls basketball, cheerleading, powerlifting, soccer and tennis also will be awarded.

Sulphur, the current site, has the lone baseball bid. Lake Charles/Burton Coliseum has bid on both basketball tournaments again. SLU/Hammond has a girls basketball bid. Shreveport/Hirsch Coliseum has bids in for the basketball, cheerleading and powerlifting events.