Three state House members have filed a bill aimed at forcing changes in a new rule that will split Louisiana’s high school football playoff system.
The measure, House Bill 267, would ban public schools from taking part in athletic contests regulated by a group that discriminates on the basis of school admission criteria.
Under the old system, public, private and other high schools competed for football championships in various classifications.
Under the change, public schools will compete this fall for five football championships based on enrollment.
Two separate championships will be held for private and other schools, including magnet, charter and laboratory operations.
All schools could continue to compete against each other during the regular season.
The overhaul, which ended more than 90 years of tradition, was approved by the Louisiana High School Athletic Association, or LHSAA, in January.
State Rep. Alan Seabaugh, R-Shreveport, one of the sponsors of the bill, said if it becomes law it would leave only private and parochial schools competing under the LHSAA, which is made up of principals from across the state.
The 2013 regular legislative session begins on April 8.
“I can tell you I have talked to representatives and senators from every corner of the state and everybody is sore about the decision,” Seabaugh said Thursday. “I don’t know a whole lot of representatives and senators that like the move.”
Backers of the new rule say the split is needed because private schools enjoy an unfair advantage in admission policies, and can essentially recruit top athletes.
Seabaugh said the split playoffs amount to discrimination.
“And the LHSAA has said they are going to discriminate,” he said.
“All of the religious-based schools were segregated out,” Seabaugh said. “That really doesn’t fly.”
Public school leaders have long complained that a few private school football powers, especially John Curtis Christian School in River Ridge and Evangel Christian Academy in Shreveport, have dominated playoff competition.
During a legislative hearing on March 5, opponents of the new rules accused public school leaders of opting for a split playoff format to avoid tough competition.
The other sponsors of the bill are state Reps. Bob Hensgens, R-Abbeville, and Wesley Bishop, D-New Orleans.
Neither Hensgens nor Bishop returned telephone calls for comment.
Kenny Henderson, executive director of the LHSAA, also did not return a call.