Caddo Parish schools get reprieve, will not receive playoff bans _lowres


There will be reports on a variety of topics, ranging from finances to championship events.

But it’s the “discussion items” that will likely dominate Thursday’s LHSAA executive committee meeting.

As the possibility of legislative intervention in the LHSAA’s growing select/nonselect split championships looms, plenty of people are waiting to see what happens next at the 9 a.m. meeting scheduled for the LHSAA office.

Rep. Kirk Talbot, R-River Ridge is one of three legislators scheduled to speak to the committee about legislative items concerning the LHSAA, including two bills by Talbot.

“Our plan is to be proactive,” LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine said. “Whatever transpires, we’ll react to that and see what happens. There will be room for plenty of discussion.

“I think it’s going to be a good meeting. … I’m looking forward to it. It sounds like we’ll have a bunch of coaches in the building to see what happens.”

Some observers view the meeting as the executive committee’s chance to override the 182-120 January vote to expand split playoffs to include basketball, baseball and softball.

The split playoff plan has been in effect for football for three seasons with nonselect schools (public schools) and select schools (private schools, charter schools, magnet schools and laboratory schools) splitting into different divisions for the postseason.

Bonine and LHSAA President Vic Bonnaffee of Central Catholic have made no promises, other than to note that there will be discussion at the meeting. Bonnaffee also said committee members should listen closely to Bonine’s reports and comments.

“I do believe in the gifts of people,” Bonnaffee said. “And I’ve got to believe with 24 people in the room somebody has got to have some idea that will give us direction as to how to bring up compromise with regard to these issues.

“There are topics that have to be looked at. A lot of things go across his (Bonine’s) desk. He’ll give us factual information that will be important for us when it comes to making decisions. We need to honor and respect him on the presentations he makes.”

There are 11 discussion items. Talbot, Rep. Larry Bagley, R-Stonewall, and Rep. Marcus Hunter, D-Monroe, are set to address the executive committee.

The legislators are set to come to the full executive committee a day after Bonine and a group of committee members, including Bonnaffee, past-president Todd Guice, a former Ouachita Parish principal, and Assumption Principal Niles Riché, met with a group of legislators at the Capitol.

Other discussion points include the LHSAA’s recent ban on walk-up music for baseball and softball, interpretations of attendance zone rules, interpretation of athletic period rules, interpretation of sports seasons rules and complaints about the malfunction of voting devices used at the January convention.

The committee’s first evaluation of Bonine’s job performance also is on the agenda. Bonine, the former executive director for Nevada’s high school sports organization, started working for the LHSAA full time in March 2015.

Talbot’s House Bill 863 has garnered the bulk of attention because it would prohibit schools that receive state funds from belonging to an association that divides its championships along select/nonselect lines. Though HB 863 looks like a measure that could possibly kill the 96-year-old LHSAA, Talbot contends he is trying to save the organization by forcing the schools back together.

Also notable is HB 1101. The legislation from Rep. Stuart Bishop, R-Lafayette, would eliminate traditional attendance zones for public schools in Louisiana. The LHSAA moved back toward school zones in January, when it rescinded a parish boundary rule passed a few years ago.

Talbot’s HB 993 is aims to keep public/nonpublic schools that receive state funds in line to compete with each other if a new athletic group forms. Plans for an alternative “sports cooperative” developed by lobbyist Paul Rainwater became public last month.