LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine formed a task force to study the organization’s select/nonselect school issues with the idea that a plan or solution could be found.
Three potential solutions were discussed at the second task force meeting Thursday afternoon at the LHSAA office. Like the first meeting held in late May, the second meeting was closed to the public.
“I was pleased,” Bonine said. “We didn’t have a full group like we had at the first one because of vacations. There was good dialogue and there were three proposals.”
Notre Dame Athletic Director-football coach Lewis Cook presented a plan that would divide LHSAA schools based on enrollment figures and their metro/rural status rather than select/nonselect status. Cook had debuted the plan, which is actually three plans in one, at Wednesday’s football coaches forum at the Louisiana High School Coaches Association’s Coaches Clinic.
University High football coach Chad Mahaffey and the Louisiana Football Coaches Association also made presentations. Mahaffey’s plan would use a success factor multiplier to determine how schools would play up in classification. The LFCA’s plan would condense the select/nonselect football playoffs down to seven divisions.
For the second straight day, Cook said the metro/rural proposal garnered positive reviews. Cook also was the only one of four previously-appointed task force spokesmen in attendance.
“It was all positive. … People responded to it well,” Cook said. “We did the research and from 1981-99 rural schools represented 55 percent of the participants at the football finals. And from 2000 to today it’s only 38 percent.
“When I was at Crowley High, I had the chance to play for three state titles. You look at it now, and Crowley doesn’t have that same shot. I’ve seen Breaux Bridge get knocked out by really good metro teams in the quarters and semis. You can see how things have flipped to the metro side.”
The Notre Dame plan established eight metro areas in Louisiana — Alexandria, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Monroe, New Orleans, north shore/Interstate 10 corridor and Shreveport. Schools located within 91/2 miles of a heavily populated metro area are considered metro-league schools. Those located beyond that point would be classified in rural leagues.
Part of the rationale behind the metro/rural division is that metro schools have the chance to draw students from a wider area than rural schools. Cook’s plan included three possible scenarios.
Cook said the plan that divided schools into three metro and three rural divisions along with one “iron man” division for the state’s smallest football schools was the one task force members seemed to favor. The plans would have three metro/three rural or four metro/four rural divisions. Though the plan was designed for football, Cook said he could see it being used for other sports.
“With our select society it’s easy to see where the population is going, and what’s happening with our rural schools,” Cook said. “I started thinking along these lines several years ago.
“What we wanted to do was get a plan that everybody would think was fair, so we could all get back together. I think this plan can get us back together, and we can still have fair and equal competition.”