Fambrough: LHSAA dealing with hearing, reclassification

By Robin Fambrough

Advocate sportswriter

It will be a busy week for the Louisiana High School Athletic Association and not just because it is less than two weeks until its Prep Classic football finals at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.

The LHSAA is set to tackle two high-profile issues — districting for 2013-14 and 2014-15 and a sportsmanship hearing from the Live Oak-Parkway Class 5A football game to sort out what happened when LOHS football coach Tut Musemeche was handcuffed before the game at PHS.

It starts on Tuesday with a meeting in Winnfield that will give north Louisiana schools a chance to voice their views on districting. South Louisiana schools get the same chance on Wednesday at the LHSAA office. The LOHS-Parkway hearing is tentatively set for 10 a.m. Thursday.

The districting part of classification always has the potential to be contentious. Many schools took a wait-and-see attitude and didn’t attend the first meeting held earlier this month.

Once the list of schools opting to play one class above their enrollment-based class was released and the LHSAA sent out its first preliminary plan, sparks started to fly.

John Curtis coming to a Baton Rouge area district was among the points of the LHSAA plan to draw fire. BR’s Class 5A schools were given the chance to vote on what alignment they will favor now that Broadmoor is moving into the 5A mix for the first time in more than a decade.

The premise behind districting issues is there’s always some team, or a group of teams, no one wants in their district.

Football is often at the heart of these disputes, even though travel and hardships for other sports are always “cited” as concerns.

I remember all too well those classification/districting meetings before the map programs and GPS devices. You would have a large Louisiana map covered in push pins and yarn to indicate what the districts would look like.

There were always conflicts. Everybody seemed to have an idea for how it could be done better.

Expect more of the same thing this week as schools jockey for the positions they will hold for the next two years.

The LOHS-Parkway hearing is different from most because there was no physical altercation involving players or coaches.

I’m sure there will be a lot of he said-she said-they said statements made. Contradictory statements are part of
the process, which is something I thought the Zachary-Teurlings Catholic baseball hearings proved all too well last spring.

It will be the job of the principals who serve on the committee to render a decision based on those contradictions and perhaps try to get both sides to find some common ground. I wish them luck, especially in light of the lawsuit Musemeche filed against Parkway Principal Nichole Bourgeois, the Bossier Parish School System and the Bossier police.

Given the LHSAA’s advocacy of sportsmanship, which includes mandates for schools, this incident provides a real quandary. How was handcuffing a head coach in front of his team the right thing to do, keeping sportsmanship in mind?

Also, how can a school deny an opponent the right to warm up on the field where the game will be played for a specified amount of time?

Once the hearing is over, the LHSAA needs to look closely at setting up specific pregame guidelines that will prevent any future incidents like this from happening in all sports, not just football.

Yep, it will be a full week for the LHSAA once again. And it will all happen before the games are played.