No silver car built for time travel was parked outside the LHSAA office Tuesday. But I did scan the parking lot for it as I walked to my car after the executive committee’s summer meeting ended.
What happened on the final day of the two-day meeting just might inspire a new verse for the 1969 song “Both Sides Now.” An LHSAA-centric “Back to the Future” remake comes to mind.
A presentation by select-school representatives sought to form a binding organization for those schools within the LHSAA. The meeting ended with the committee passing a motion that charged LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine and his staff to develop at least two plans to bring the LHSAA’s select/nonselect schools back together. Or at least prevent the select/nonselect split from widening.
I know exactly what you are thinking — didn’t some of this happen before? Yes, it did. And what could make this time any different?
The LHSAA’s select/nonselect issues are not new. The first attempt at a split took place in 1997 and it finally happened in 2013 when member schools voted to split its football championships.
A 2016 vote added basketball, baseball and softball to the split mix. In January, another vote gave select schools control of hosting their championship games/events in split sports apart from LHSAA tourneys/venues.
Fast-forward to Tuesday for the two exchanges that happened a couple of hours apart. Both reveal much about where the LHSAA is now and how both sides are trying to figure out where they want and need to be next.
The exchanges painted a picture of how deep the disconnect is now and offered the latest potential path for the 99-year-old organization to get itself together.
Is it too late for that to happen? Many people think so. Regardless of where we go next, this was yet another benchmark in the LHSAA’s split saga.
Most of us expected a report by select schools to include a structure for what the select title games etc., for 2019-20 might look like. Instead, Catholic High Athletic Director J.P. Kelly asked about forming an organization within the LHSAA for select schools, a group led by 93 private schools. The new organization would provide binding structure much like the Louisiana High School Coaches Association does for coaches.
Kelly asked if the LHSAA had or would consider that. The answer was no from Executive Director Eddie Bonine, who later lauded the LHSAA's championship events as something all playoffs should end with.
Bonine also referenced a 2014 survey of schools done under former Executive Director Kenny Henderson that listed 33 percent as being interested in reuniting the LHSAA. Dual governance like what select schools suggested was the fourth option.
If private schools were the only ones in the select group it could be easier. Magnet schools, charter schools and laboratory schools are select schools too. Some are part of public-school systems and are select by virtue of curriculum or enrollment that draws 25 percent or more of its enrollment from outside a traditional attendance zone.
One could argue that the select-school label is one of the few things they share, thus explaining a desire for a binding subgroup that would bring select schools together. Would it bring select schools together, but also widen the gap between select/nonselect schools? That is one possibility.
Yes, we’ve heard talk and watched as past plans to bring the LHSAA back together fell by the wayside, for whatever reasons. Bonine formed a committee during his first year in Baton Rouge that was made up of select/nonselect coaches and administrators.
The viability of plans to bring the groups together was always scrutinized and it will be again. Lack or trust and animosity has factored in too. The difference this time is that the request for a solution comes from the LHSAA’s executive committee, a group that has just one select school member.
Some states apply a multiplier to the enrollment of private schools/charter schools that draw students from large metro areas. Others use a success factor, which forces schools to move up in class after winning a particular number of titles etc.
Other possibilities that will be kicked around too. And there is supposed to be surveys of principals, coaches and student-athletes that show where they stand on split-related issues.
Could this create an “Ah, ha” moment that brings the LHSAA back together? I have no idea.
I do know this — a lot of people, myself included, love the LHSAA and its schools to pieces. Seeing it in pieces is another matter.