New Orleans officials pleased as LHSAA votes against further splitting the organization _lowres

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Incoming LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine holds up a copy of the association's handbook while making a point.

Coaches and athletic directors who packed the Crowne Plaza in Baton Rouge waiting to see what direction the Louisiana High School Athletic Association was headed will have to keep waiting.

The biggest news from this year’s LHSAA convention, which concluded Friday, was that there won’t be any big changes in the controversial public vs. private school matter.

At least not yet.

The 300 principals voted to put on hold two proposals and voted down another one that would have altered the landscape of the LHSAA.

So for now, everything will stay as it is, giving incoming LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine a chance to assess the situation and come up with a better solution.

The decision to wait before making any major overhauls to the current system left many coaches from the New Orleans area thrilled.

“I couldn’t be happier,” John Curtis football coach J.T. Curtis said. “I think we made a great decision as educators. We didn’t do something that was knee-jerk, but did something that was good for the long term. We have a new person in charge, so giving him an opportunity to evaluate everything from an unbiased perspective is very important.”

Bonine, who officially begins his duties in March, addressed the member principals, asking for time to evaluate the LHSAA’s public vs. private school issues.

The key to his plan is to appoint a committee that will address issues within his first 45 days after taking over in March. Bonine, still fulfilling his obligations to Nevada’s high school sports organization, said he wants the committee to have a wide range of individuals, including schools cited as part of the issue, and he said he would like to have solutions put together for review by the fall.

Following Bonine’s speech to the principals, two proposals designed to address the LHSAA’s split select/nonselect playoffs that now includes just football were tabled. One of those proposals included adding a sixth classification.

Later, the first of three proposals to split the playoffs in other sports by Many High School Principal Norman Booker III failed by a 161-82 margin. After Booker’s baseball proposal failed, he withdrew his other proposals for softball and basketball.

“I’m not surprised,” Booker said when asked about the proposal, which failed by close to a two-to-one margin. “I wouldn’t have been surprised if it had passed, and I wouldn’t have been surprised if it had failed. I know I was kind of outnumbered on the ability to spread the word.

“But I think more than anything that our principals voted in support of our new director. They are going to give him full support, at least for a year, and I’m willing to do that.”

Bonine said he was pleased with the principals’ willingness to wait.

??I am very confident that the people we had in this room and what they did today are ready to make a good solid change and a good sound decision on what we need to,” Bonine said.

Other local coaches and administrators were pleased as well.

“I’m hoping that we can now heal as an association,” said John Serio, principal at Archbishop Chapelle. “I think we averted some major problems. If there had been a split in other sports, there’s no telling where the association was going.”

There were some changes Friday. Some of the more notable proposals that passed:

Soccer will increase from three divisions to four. That proposal passed by a vote of 190-43.

“I think it will help out soccer in general in the state,” Ben Franklin soccer coach Jose Ferrand said. “It doesn’t affect us as much, but it will help some of the smaller schools in Division III and give them more opportunities.”

Soccer also implemented an eight-goal mercy rule.

In baseball, a proposal to limit pitchers from throwing more than 14 innings in a calendar week passed 125-121.

But the day’s biggest change was that there won’t be any major changes just yet.

“I’m glad that cooler heads prevailed,” Helen Cox football coach Willie Brooks said. “I think it was the right thing. Give him time. Once we do whatever we decide to do, we want to make sure we are doing it right.”