Article written by Bro. Neal Golden, S.C. '57 CJ
The Louisiana High School Athletic Association will hold its annual principals’ meeting on January 29-31 in Baton Rouge. In preparation for the meeting, the Executive Director, Eddie Bonine, has held area meetings to discuss the proposals. The New Orleans area meeting was held Thursday night.
To understand the proposals that will be voted on by the principals, you must go back to 2013 when the principals voted to split the football playoffs. Select schools, defined as “all non-public, charter, university lab and magnet schools" as well as "any dual-curriculum schools that include at least 25 percent of their enrollment as select admission students who do not live in the designated attendance zone,” were placed into three divisions, each of which had its own playoff bracket leading to a champion. The non-select schools competed in their playoffs in the five traditional classifications (5A, 4A, 3A, 2A, and A). A year later, the association voted to extend the split to basketball, baseball, and softball.
Last January, the principals voted to allow the select schools to run their own playoffs in the four split sports. So last summer, the select schools formed the Louisiana Select Association for the sole purpose of administering the championship events in those sports. As a result, Rummel and Catholic High played the Division I football championship game at Tulane’s Yulman Stadium rather than in the Superdome as part of the LHSAA playoffs. Bonine told the New Orleans area meeting that members of the Executive Committee interpreted the formation of the LSA as the first step to forming a separate association of private schools.
At its annual summer meeting last June, the executive committee asked Bonine and his staff to develop at least two proposals for this year’s principals’ meeting to reunite LHSAA schools for the playoffs. The executive committee responded by making 95 changes to the LHSAA Constitution, all of which must be ratified by the principals at next weekend’s meeting.
Two proposals greatly disturb the select schools. The first would make a student who attends a high school outside his/her athletic attendance zone ineligible for athletic competition for one calendar year. Since Brother Martin’s attendance zone is Orleans Parish, this restriction would apply to any student who comes to Brother Martin from a school in Jefferson, St. Bernard, St. Tammany, or St. Charles Parish.
This proposal was the first topic raised at the area meeting. Brother Martin principal Ryan Gallagher ‘00 said that the executive committee “doesn’t seem to understand all of the possible ramifications that are the source of our angst. They only recently sent out a questionnaire asking us to list how many of our students come from outside our attendance zone. More analysis needs to be done before they pull the trigger on this.” During the discussion, Bonine stated that the committee, which has only one non-public school principal on it, sees this proposal as a prerequisite for reuniting the schools for the playoffs. However, he added that he did not expect the proposal to pass and that the executive committee might pull the proposal from the agenda at the principals’ meeting.
An even more troubling proposal would “remove” all private schools from the LHSAA and require each school that wants to stay to reapply to the Executive Committee as a “special member.” Under the “pros” for the proposal is this statement: “Allows private schools to form their own organization but still be able to join the LHSAA.” Presumably, this statement refers to private schools that don’t want to stay in the LHSAA and schools that the LHSAA refuses to readmit.
When a private single-gender school is readmitted, its enrollment would be multiplied by 2.5 when determining which classification the school is placed in. That stipulation would not affect Brother Martin since we are already in the highest classification. The obvious purpose of this proposal is to force private schools to play in higher classifications than they do now instead of leaving it to the individual schools to decide to play up, as John Curtis has done for years.
Perhaps because of the feedback he has received at the regional meetings, Bonine told the New Orleans area meeting that the proposal to remove all private schools from the LHSAA may also be pulled by the Executive Board.
On the brighter side, Mr. Gallagher is optimistic that proposals to end the split playoffs in the other three sports besides football have a good chance of passing. They will be presented one sport at a time and need only a simple majority for approval.
- Bro. Neal Golden, S.C. '57 CJ