After a lengthy debate, the LHSAA’s executive committee voted by an 11-10 margin to approve a special-called meeting of all member principals to consider a School Relations Committee plan to implement the expanded split championships.
No date for the special meeting was set. The School Relations Committee plan presented by Chairman Mike Boyer of Teurlings Catholic and Lutcher’s Tim Detillier is a “hybrid” plan that would bring Classes 5A and 4A back together for football, leaving eight football title games.
The SRC plan also would combine the 71 schools in nonfootball Classes B and C and would put Classes 3A, 2A and 1A under the rural-metro plan the LHSAA proposed in January for boys/girls basketball, baseball and softball. Using the rural-metro plan would leave nine championships for those sports.
The original split plan voted on in January called for 12 championships each in boys/girls basketball, baseball and softball. The committee also recommended that the state tournament for softball be reduced to a semifinals/finals format that mirrors the baseball and basketball tournaments.
“It was a little closer than I anticipated based on the comments I heard during the discussion,” Boyer said of the vote. “I think what is lost sometimes is to look at the big picture. We were told by the director (Executive Director Eddie Bonine) there was a problem with implementing the plan that passed and that’s what we addressed as a committee.
“Some of the votes, I think, were based on philosophical terms, where you say I’m against all of this. That’s not in the best interest of the association if the LHSAA cannot run those events. We understand that this plan can and probably will be amended or tweaked. This is something the entire association needs to vote on.”
LHSAA Media Coordinator Jacob Doyle spoke on the LHSAA’s work to flesh out what brackets for basketball, softball and baseball might look like under the split plan passed in January. Doyle noted the found issues with small numbers of schools left in select divisions and the possibility of winless teams on the bracket. The fact that Class 5A includes just seven select schools for softball was cited as an example.
Finding a way to fit the tournaments into a format that would fit the sites/dates involved was another issue that was discussed.
Several members on the committee, most notably Hub Jordan of Pickering, questioned why football was in the hybrid plan, noting that it has “worked the last three years.” Others, including Doyle’s Tommy Hodges, questioned why the School Relations Committee didn’t work with the original plan as passes to try and come up with alternatives that would work.
LHSAA President Vic Bonnaffee of Central Catholic said it would be hard to set a date for the special meeting on Thursday. Some suggested a June meeting, which would come after the Louisiana Legislature ends its current session.
Rep. Kirk Talbot, R-River Ridge, and Rep. Larry Bagley, R-Stonewall, spoke to the group before the School Relations Committee plan was presented. Both encouraged the committee to find solutions to its issues. Bagley, a former coach, told the group to sternly punish those who violate its rules on recruiting.
Talbot’s House Bill 863 would prohibit schools receiving public funds from belonging to an association that divided its championships along select/nonselect lines. It passed the House education committee last month and is scheduled to go to the House floor next.