LHSAA alternative pitched to Louisiana high schools; LSU might host group's championship games _lowres

Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD ?-- Many Louisiana high schools recently received a copy of an outline for a new “athletic cooperative” to the LHSAA. ORG XMIT: BAT1512111955219056

A day after I wrote about the framework for a proposed alternative to the LHSAA, I was approached by a coach who asked a pretty simple question.

“Are things busy now with the new association stuff?” he asked.

The short answer is no. But it very well could get busy very quickly, depending on what happens in the days and weeks ahead.

The “athletic cooperative” structure put together by strategic planner Paul Rainwater at the request of “interested parties” provides a means to an end for those who want to jump ship on the LHSAA after January’s vote to expand the playoff split beyond football to basketball, baseball and softball.

On the surface, it sounds like an easy dilemma to resolve. Think of the Clash song I’ve referenced, “Should I Stay or Should I Go.”

But you’ve got to be ready to carry more than a tune if you start a new athletic association. That may account for the reluctance some schools have when it comes to committing to a new organization. School leaders I’ve talked to always mention the large number of unanswered questions.

School leaders on both sides of the fence are curious to see what happens now that the Legislature has started its regular session. When LHSAA principals approved the playoff split for football in 2013, educators from select and nonselect schools were invited to the Capitol.

The message then was something along the lines of, “Resolve this and get your house in order.” Makes you wonder what the message will be as things move closer to possibly having two associations, doesn’t it?

This reminds me of a high stakes card game. Many select schools are playing it close to the vest. Though Catholic schools from across the state have attended meetings about the start of the proposed cooperative, no stance has been announced.

Many believe that the path of Catholic schools, led by the New Orleans-based Catholic League, may ultimately determine if schools stay or breakaway. I’m in this group. With a minimum of 60 schools needed, a split could happen without Catholic schools. But the organization would be stronger with all those 5A schools leading the way.

The Legislature is just starting to put its cards on the table. From what I understand, we haven’t seen the full hand yet and may not for a few weeks. A state takeover of the LHSAA has been mentioned, but given our economic woes I wonder how feasible that is.

What hand does the LHSAA and Executive Director Eddie Bonine have left to play other than planning for more championship events next year? Or will the LHSAA just let it ride and see what happens next?

Bonine’s past experience as executive director in Nevada probably makes the gambling analogies sound trite. Like it or not, LHSAA sports have morphed into their own game of chance.

Now it’s a matter of who blinks first.

Follow Robin Fambrough on Twitter, @FambroughAdv