The text note in an email sent by Teurlings Catholic Principal Mike Boyer in advance of the latest meeting set up by the LHSAA’s select schools was telling.
“This IS NOT an attempt to leave the LHSAA, rather, a structured effort to secure a common voice on behalf of the select schools,” the email said.
What transpires during the 9 a.m. Monday meeting in the Teurlings cafeteria in Lafayette may be significant for the LHSAA and its 107 select schools.
Discussion about the formation of a sub-organization called the Louisiana Select Association is a key topic. Catholic High Athletic Director J.P. Kelly will present a set of bylaws and structure for the LSA which has already been circulated to select schools and discussed at area meetings.
“This is not an attempt to split away from the LHSAA,” Kelly said. “In fact, Adam MacDowell (LHSAA assistant executive director) was at our meeting in New Orleans and the schools there said they are 100 percent in favor unification of the LHSAA. We have offered to do anything we can to help that process. The LHSAA has helped us by answering questions over the last few months. This is a way for select schools to be organized.”
The LSA would provide a structure for select schools to administer championship events for the sports split along select/nonselect lines — football, basketball, baseball and softball. LHSAA member schools voted to allow select schools to break away and host their events apart from the traditional LHSAA events. Questions about the separate championship structure have loomed since that January vote.
Kelly told the LHSAA executive committee in June that a select organization would operate like the LHSAA’s other associate organizations, including the LHSCA and Louisiana High School Athletic Directors Association. Critics see it as a move by select schools toward separate organizations — something that hasn’t been discussed since the first two years of the original select/nonselect split in 2013.
LHSAA executive director Eddie Bonine argued against Boyer’s January proposals that allowed select schools to break away from the LHSAA events for that reason, calling it “a step closer to a separate governance.”
Bonine and his staff were tasked with developing at least two plans aimed at reuniting select/nonselect schools during that June executive committee meeting. In advance of that work, multiple principals confirm that a survey has been sent by the LHSAA to all member schools that offers three choices: bringing LHSAA schools back together, preventing the split from expanding to other sports or separate governance for select/nonselect schools.
The proposed structure of the LSA would provide playoff/championships structures. But it also calls for a CEO and Vice CEO, and a series of other committees, including those aimed at cultivating sponsorships and crafting proposals for its principals in advance of LHSAA conventions. Those items have raised some eyebrows. Decisions about whether 2019-20 select championship events will be played at school sites or moved to larger venues is another point of contention. Such a move would have to be approved by all schools in each division.
"I've heard mixed opinions so far,” Southern Lab director Herman Brister Jr. said. “I’m going to look at what was sent out to the schools and go in with an open mind.”
Parkview Baptist superintendent Don Mayes expressed a similar sentiment, “I want to know what the other schools are thinking, especially the Catholic schools, since they make up a large part of the group.”