The dates and sites for the 2019 select football state championship games should be released by the end of the month, said Catholic High athletic director J.P. Kelly.
Kelly, the CEO of the newly formed Louisiana Select Association, has been helping lead the process in developing a game plan for hosting championship events for football, basketball, baseball and softball in 2019-20.
A meeting with LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine earlier in the week was crucial to the process, Kelly said. The four select football title games will likely be held Dec. 6-7, a week before nonselect schools play the Allstate Sugar Bowl/Prep Classic at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
“We had a productive meeting and got some answers needed to move forward,” Kelly said. “I told Mr. Bonine we hope to lock down the dates for the football championships by Aug. 19 and then finalize a football site two weeks after that. Time is of the essence. Information on basketball, baseball and softball will come later.
“I think we have a clear path of communication now with the LHSAA that includes two or three more people. I told Mr. Bonine we want to do anything we can to bring the association back together in January. That is our No. 1 goal.”
Approval from all 108 select schools is needed to seek a site for each select-schools championship event. That ongoing process is nearing completion, Kelly said. The LSA was formed by the LHSAA’s select schools during a meeting July 29 at Teurlings Catholic in Lafayette.
Bonine has made it clear that the LSA is not recognized as a sub-group of the LHSAA, like the Louisiana High School Coaches Association. However, the LSA and its committee members representing each sport split along select/nonselect does provide a structure for select schools to set up their stand-alone championship events.
LHSAA member schools approved the stand-alone events for select schools during its annual convention in January. Getting confirmation in writing that each select school foregoes its right to host a title event is the next key step. The proposals passed in January state that championship events would be played at the host site or a neutral site selected by the higher seeded team.
“We are getting close to having that piece taken care of in writing,” Kelly said. “There are verbal commitments and are waiting on paperwork from a few schools.”
At its summer meeting in June, the LHSAA's executive committee asked Bonine to develop plans that could bring the LHSAA back together or prevent a wider split. Surveys of schools, students and coaches about the state of the select/noneselect split are an ongoing part of that process.
The LHSAA meeting gave Kelly the chance to ask whether OUTFRONT Sports, the LHSAA’s new marketing partner, could sell sponsorships for the select events. Kelly said he was told that option would have to be explored. After the formation of the LSA, Chuck Schmidt, the Vice President/GM of OUTFRONT Sports’ prep division sent an email to Kelly stating that his company is licensed sell all LHSAA sponsorships.
This is the latest in the LHSAA's select/nonselect schools saga that began in 2013 when football championships were split along select and nonselect lines. Nonselect schools are traditional public schools and some charter schools. Select schools include private, full magnet, laboratory and some charter schools. The split was extended to include boys/girls basketball, baseball and softball in 2016.