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Louisiana High School Athletic Association President Bruce Bundy, left, talks with LHSAA executive director Eddie Bonine, right, on the last day of the LHSAA's annual convention, which included a general assembly vote on proposals for changing LHSAA's select/nonselect split championships in its major sports or keep the status quo, Friday, Jan. 31, 2020 at the LHSAA's annual convention at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Baton Rouge.

The LHSAA executive committee’s unanimous Wednesday vote to move forward with a June 8 summer practice start should ignite some excitement.

Those expecting news on violations of the coronavirus practice ban must wait a bit longer.

Discussing a 90-minute executive committee Zoom meeting, LHSAA executive director Eddie Bonine reaffirmed there are sparks surrounding some reports of schools teams practicing before June 8, but not complete investigations that would lead to sanctions yet.

“What we do have is video evidence and pictures with reports on four football schools,” Bonine said. “The process of obtaining more evidence and identifying adults seen in these videos continues. One thing we agreed on today was this: It’s time to begin summer practice to begin Monday.”

Because the LHSAA does not govern summer practice or activities, the June 8 date ends what has been an unprecedented time. The desire to put schools on equal footing with planning and sanitizing procedures amid the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the executive committee to move its summer rules date from May 17 to June 8.

By last week, the LHSAA had received reports on approximately a dozen football schools violating the practice ban. Bonine told the executive committee that as of Wednesday, 17 football teams were reported as violating the practice ban, primarily via emails or phone calls.

Bonine also noted that 18 baseball teams, 14 softball teams and 12 wrestling teams also were reported. He declined to name the schools involved but added that the LHSAA will notify schools of sanctions within the next couple of weeks, as to allow for appeals at its June 24 executive committee meeting.

“We have requested video and photos, especially to go with reports we have no video on,” Bonine said. “Several of these (reports) were dead ends. For example, when you call back the number from the voicemail, it’s been disconnected.

“Several schools were reported for football and baseball. The bottom line is that the majority of our 400 schools have been patient and done what we asked.”

Practice guidelines

A 21-page list of safety guidelines, not rules, for June 8 workouts is posted on the LHSAA website. It is based on recommendations from the NFHS and LHSAA’s sports advisory committee.

In the memo, schools are advised to take athletes’ temperatures and do a health screening each day before workouts. Sterilization of equipment is recommended before, during and after each group. A total of 25 people, for example, are allowed in a weight-room setting.

“These are guidelines … we are not the remediation police. Once practices start, it will be up to the schools and school systems to handle that,” Bonine said. “By waiting until June 8, we do believe more schools have been able to put solid plans in place.”

Lagniappe

Bonine said assistant executive director Adam MacDowell and LHSCA director Eric Held drove by 17 schools in East Baton Rouge Parish/West Baton Rouge Parish and found no evidence of illegal practices on back-to-back days.

• DeRidder principal Harry Hooker participated in an executive committee meeting for the first time since he was hospitalized with COVID-19. He has recovered.

• The committee approved membership for three new schools, Monroe-based Glenbrook and River Oaks, along with Acadiana Charter.

Glenbrook and River Oaks are longtime members of Mississippi Association of Independent Schools. They join another former MAIS member, Central Private, in the LHSAA ranks.

• LHSAA tournament sites for boys/girls basketball, baseball, softball, tennis, powerlifting and wrestling were approved Wednesday. Bonine said the sites will be announced once all sites that submitted proposals for those events are notified.


Email Robin Fambrough at rfambrough@theadvocate.com