LHSAA classes vote to keep split playoff format; reaction

Louisiana High School Athletic Association Principals in Class 5A-1A voted by class on whether to continue split football playoffs for select and nonselect schools in 2014.

Here are the results and some reactions from those individual class meetings that were part of the LHSAA’s annual convention Thursday at the Crowne Plaza.

Total vote

152-67 to retain split football playoffs.

Class 5A

Vote: 33-24 to remain split.

McKinley Principal Armond Brown, who voted yes to rejoin schools: “I thought maybe we’d come back and form a whole — get this 5A thing back together instead of being opposed to each other. I didn’t like this select/nonselect thing when it started. Everybody needs to be together. And I still feel that way.”

Bruce Bundy, Mandeville, who voted no to retain split: “I think we’re stronger together, but I understand what brought us here. When schools can take kids from anywhere and the public schools can’t, it seems not to be a level playing field. This has been going on for years and years. I think that some of the public school principals want to stand up and say I want the same opportunity. I don’t think this will move forward a lot in separating the other sports. I think the executive committee will be faced with some tough decisions about how to make the state championships run more smoothly.”

Wes Watts, Zachary, co-authored the item to reunite schools and voted yes: “I really thought in 5A that we were fine ... that this was going to pass. I didn’t take the time to talk to a lot of people. My understanding before today was that more people were for it than against it. We misread it. I’m disappointed for the kids. I’ve always believed we should all compete together. There are some great ramifications down the road that we won’t know until after the meeting tomorrow.”

Traci McCorkle, East Ascension, who voted yes to reunite schools: “After I spoke with our coaches and assistant principal in charge of athletics, we felt the yes vote was right for us. We really feel like if there is going to be a split, we feel that it should be more than just football. There are greater disparities in other sports. Look at volleyball, for example. And if people feel select schools have players they shouldn’t have, let’s enforce the rules.”

David Lewis, Higgins, who voted no to keep the split: “I talked with our coaches and they liked it with the traditional schools (public schools) playing together. They feel like that gives us the best opportunities to succeed. As the leader of the school, I voted based on the things they told me.”

Rummel principal Mike Scalco, who voted yes: “We’re disappointed. We were hoping it would pass and it didn’t. We will get together and discuss options and see what happens. A lot of the Catholic League principals feel like our votes really don’t count. There were three public school principals that put this up.”

Class 4A

Vote: 25-16 to remain split.

Karr principal John Hiser, who co-authored the item and voted yes: “It’s unfortunate. In our country, majority speaks. Some people are looking for some type of mythical level playing field. They forget the pendulum swings back wards and forwards as far as being successful from one year to the next. Who knows what the future ebrings. We tend to want to design the future based upon the past. Maybe we need to have 60 championships. At the end of the day, what does it mean. Are you the best? Or are you best of the rest? Maybe to some folks the answer is really not that important.”

Crowley principal Perry Myles, who voted no: “I expected it to turn out that way. I am a person who believes in competition. You give me a group of people and I will coach them up and get them ready to play. But year in and year out, some schools get people from every where. Public schools don’t have that choice. We get kids from our feeder schools and that’s it. So we aren’t going to be as good as them year in and year out.”

Shane Smith, Franklinton football coach: “The betterment of the association is for us to play together. In 4A, there were four (five) schools in that select division. I don’t know what kind of impact those four schools had on the state championship game. Something has got to happen. Nine state championship games are too many. I know the association feels like seven is the magic number. But how do you get to seven?”

Class 3A

Vote: 36-12 to remain split.

Albert Camburn, University, who voted yes: “I’m disappointed we didn’t come back together. Being together makes everyone stronger. I hope in the future this issue will be reconsidered.”

Don Mayes, Parkview Baptist, who voted yes: “I think competing at a full-class level is the most straightforward way to go. I think a lot has to happen now. There has to be a lot of discussion (about the split, school relations) moving forward.”

Walt Lemoine, Brusly, who ran the meeting and did not vote: “We did it (split) for one year. I think people were satisfied with (it), and that’s what we’ll continue to do. Personally, I’m not glad we’re in this situation. But as far as how it worked out, I just know we had two community schools that made it to the Dome (Mercedes-Benz Superdome) in 3A. Things are changing so much not only in the world of athletics, but also in academics.”

Marvin Alexander, Green Oaks, who voted no: “I just think if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. This season showed that everybody can participate in the party and it can go well. Until these select schools play on the same playing field as us, this is the way things need to be. Evangel, for example, out of the 300-something students they have, 300 of them are athletes. While I have to deal with deal with test scores and academic mandates and they don’t. The playing field needs to be equal.”

Hugh Wallace, Independence, who voted no: “There would have to be more rigid enforcement by the LHSAA. That’s the only way I would consider going back together. It’s not fair. I have to take what comes to me. They (select schools) can go all over the countryside and get players and their academic requirements are different than ours.”

Class 2A

Vote: 34-7 to remain split

James Davis, Ferriday, who voted no: “This was a very positive vote for the public schools. It gives more schools the opportunity to make the playoffs.”

Michael Kennedy, St. James, who voted no: “The vote was what I expected. It worked out great for us. It helps level the playing field.”

Jane Griffin, Winnfield, who voted no: “I’m pleased. Several schools had never been to the state finals before and they made it this year. There was a lot of excitement in those communities. And that was good.”

Class 1A

Vote: 24-8 to remain split.

Thomas O’Kelly, Block coach: “I just think that if we are trying to make a level playing field, this is the best chance to do that. I’m not sure if this is the exactly the best way of going out and doing it, but it’s a step in the right direction.”

Mike Guilbeaux, Vermilion Catholic, who voted no: “Everybody has to do what they feel is in the best interest of their school and I understand that. But we stand on the ground that the association should remain in tact together.”

Jeff Tannehill, St. Frederick coach: “I think that the split was good because it gives kids a lot more opportunity to win championships. Some people say that it is watered down, but I truly believe it is the best that has happened in the history of the LHSAA, as far as football goes.”

Vic Bonnaffee, Central Catholic, who ran the meeting and did not vote: “I’m not surprised, but I am disappointed. I’m a purist, and I really want the association as one. I really feel that with this (split), you create a mentality in kids that they’re automatically in the playoffs and they don’t have to earn it. I think we are in a world of expectation and they have to learn to achieve.”

Robin Fambrough, Rod Walker, Reed DeSalvo, Trey Mongrue and Chris Chapple contributed to this report