LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine didn’t have to wait long to get feedback.
From a volatile morning area meeting in Bossier City to a more subdued afternoon area meeting in Monroe, principals and coaches gave Bonine their views on:
- A recent opinion issued by new LHSAA attorney Mark Boyer that states the LHSAA’s 2013 vote to split its football championships is unconstitutional.
- The LHSAA’s rural-metro plan Bonine and LHSCA Director Terence Williams have touted as an alternative to splitting playoffs along select/nonselect school boundaries.
- The “slanted” perception of the split and the LHSAA’s motivation for resolving it.
The LHSAA’s area meetings continue Wednesday with an 8:30 a.m. meeting at Alexandria Senior High and a 1:30 p.m. meeting at The LITE Center in Lafayette.
Two key figures in the split situation, Many Principal Norman Booker and Winnfield Principal Jane Griffin, made their feelings known Tuesday.
Griffin attended the Monroe meeting at Ouachita Parish High and made it clear she doesn’t buy into Boyer’s opinion, which is based on a section of the LHSAA’s constitution that says the LHSAA’s executive committee must approve any classification proposal involving two or more classes. She pointed out a 2013 legal opinion that the LHSAA paid for which validated her playoff plan as constitutional based on other points in the constitution.
“I was very surprised,” Griffin said of Friday’s announcement. “I am not one who sits at my desk waiting for emails. I had no warning about it, and I don’t buy in because my proposal was not about classification, it was about playoffs.
“So it was not a classification issue, plus it was vetted after the fact to the tune of a $10,000 bill. A lawyer vetted it and said it was legal.”
Bonine told the group that it will be up to Boyer, the LHSAA executive committee and parliamentarian Brian LeJeune to determine how the 2013 split vote is treated and whether the LHSAA would revert to its traditional five classes.
Booker has two proposals on the agenda that would expand the split along nonselect (traditional public schools) and select (private, magnet, most charter, laboratory schools) lines to basketball, baseball and softball.
One of Booker’s proposals applies to just Class 2A. The other could expand the split to other classes, but might be ruled out-of-order depending on the final interpretation of Boyer’s opinion.
“I think the executive committee needs to step up and get that (constitution questions about the split) corrected,” Booker said. “The membership voted on something, and I think the constitution should be changed to reflect that.
“I want what’s good for all students, and we’ve done that for three years now in football. There are other kids out there who are faced with the same obstacles as football has been.”
Many football coach Jess Curtis and Benton Principal Mitch Downey were among those who questioned the LHSAA’s motivation for wanting to end the split and the perception of the split during the Shreveport area meeting at Airline High.
“The perception is the powers that be … the LHSAA … want the association back together,” Downey said. “They don’t want a split because they feel like it’s a perceived black eye on their part because the association split under their leadership.
“It’s a matter of trust, and there are questions about the rationales used to explain why the split is not legal. Or why there are threats from the legislature. There’s all kinds of reasons why we can’t be separate and not reasons for it. That’s my opinion.”
Curtis added, “This (split) has passed the membership twice. My frustration is it’s always that angle — the split is dead. Everywhere it was front-page news. Evidently that is not the truth. I’d like to see more of our side of it out there, and we have a side.”
The range of responses didn’t faze Bonine.
“I think it speaks to the state of Louisiana where each area has its own concerns,” Bonine said. “And they have their own ways of portraying messages. Alexandria’s will be its way. It’ll be the same in Lafayette, Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
“With 10 being the best we could do, I thought we were a solid seven or eight on our presentation. I thought it was a good day.”
There were no negative comments when assistant executive director Keith Alexander reminded schools to vote on pay raises for officials that were mandated after a threatened strike last summer.
Reviews of the rural-metro plan were not as solid. Booker pointed, “The one thing about select and nonselect is you know exactly what it is.”
Mangham Athletic Director Thomas Tharp called the rural-metro plan a stop-gap procedure.
“I think it (rural-metro proposal) addresses the concerns for some people but not for others,” Tharp said. “I hope I’m wrong, but I think if it were to pass it would be just another Band-Aid move that would eventually put us right back where we are.”