LHSAA has key items to consider

While two proposals that would split Louisiana High School Athletic Association into
playoff divisions figure to
garner headlines, there are
other significant LHSAA convention agenda items that member principals will address this week.

The headline proposal, submitted a year ago, would divide teams into separate playoffs for football and other major team sports starting in 2015-16. The other would apply to football only and go into effect this fall.

Here’s a look at the key issues to be discussed when the LHSAA’s annual convention starts Wednesday at Baton Rouge’s Crowne Plaza. The three-day event concludes with a vote on agenda items during a general assembly meet set for Friday.

Football by divisions

A football by divisions proposal authored by LHSAA Executive Director Kenny Henderson and the executive committee.

This proposal would be effective 2015-16 and would put football schools in five divisions. All football and nonfootball schools would then by divided into six classifications for other sports.

The rationale is to allow football teams to play in larger
districts because travel is less of a factor. Smaller districts would be set for other sports, alleviating travel.

WHAT TO KNOW: This proposal has been considered before, but has failed to garner support and has been reworked.

Schools in classes B-C don’t like it because they would be combined in some cases with 1A schools. Others don’t like it because it would do away with the traditional districts for all sports, including football, that schools have now.

No 7th- and 8th-graders

Another proposal by the executive committee would
prohibit schools in the LHSAA’s top four classes — 2A, 3A, 4A and 5A — from having students in seventh and eighth grades practice or play for any of its teams on any level.

Teams in 1A, B, C would only be allowed to use seventh- and eighth-graders if those grades are under the official jurisdiction of the member high school as recognized by Louisiana’s State Department of Education.

Seventh- and eighth-graders would not be sanctioned to play the contact sports and football and wrestling. This rule also would prohibit seventh- and eighth-graders, who are allowed to play on high school teams, from also playing on seventh and eighth-grade teams.

WHAT TO KNOW: Henderson cited safety concerns, while also
noting 1A, B and C teams often use seventh- and eighth-graders to complete their teams.

Attendance zones

University High Principal Albert Camburn authored two proposals: One would eliminate designated attendance zones for LHSAA schools. The second would give first-time LHSAA students a one-time choice if their attendance zone includes more than one LHSAA school.

The first proposal would be an open-enrollment
format. Some parishes, including Rapides, already use this.

The school-of-choice proposal sets guidelines for eligibility on the varsity and subvarsity levels should a student change schools after making a school of first choice.

WHAT TO KNOW: Some schools may like one, or oppose both, based on the dynamics in their part of the state.

Basketball tournaments

Three principals have a
proposal that would return the LHSAA to its previous format of hosting separate boys and girls state basketball tournaments. Members of the Louisiana High School Basketball Coaches Association back it.

WHAT TO KNOW: This is the second year of combined regional semifinal and final state
tournaments that were lobbied for by the LHSAA and approved. Last year’s tourneys didn’t attract as many fans as the separate tourneys did the year before. Henderson told principals at the area meetings the LHSAA has no opposition to this proposal.

Class 5A baseball

A proposal for Class 5A only would allow baseball teams to play a weekend best-of-three games series for the regional and quarterfinal rounds.

The four winners would
advance on to a single-elimination state tournament. This proposal was placed on the agenda by several principals, including several from the Baton Rouge and New Orleans areas.

WHAT TO KNOW: Henderson said the plan would not extend the season. Class 5A baseball schools would end their season on the same date as other teams instead of a week later. Sending four teams to a single elimination tournament would bring the 5A tourney in line with the other LHSAA baseball tournaments.