By Robin Fambrough
July 14, 2012
On paper, it looked like a low-key day for the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s executive committee.
The second day of the LHSAA’s annual summer meeting proved to be anything but simple. First, scheduling conflicts forced the committee to make site-related changes for its 2013 Top 28 basketball finals tournament, moving the event to the University of Louisiana at Monroe and leaving two committed regional semifinal sites.
The session, which lasted more than four hours, ended with the committee opting to consider a compromise proposal from LHSAA Executive Director Kenny Henderson that would make 367 high school-aged voucher students eligible for 2012-13 only. The group rejected a first voucher plan from Henderson on Wednesday.
A decision on the compromise voucher plan is part of the Friday agenda. The final day of the summer meeting is scheduled to start at 8 a.m. at the LHSAA office.
The committee expected to vote on bids for its finals basketball site and for its revamped golf tournaments on Thursday.
Henderson said he learned last week that an NCAA change to the dates for basketball would significantly change the LHSAA’s efforts to host the second year of its first combined boys-girls tournament venture since 1982.
“We found out about this very late,” Henderson said. “And it changed what we had to do.”
The NCAA date changes eliminated ULM as a regional semifinal host, something Monroe e-mailed the LHSAA about on May 31, according to data the LHSAA provided. The change made Louisiana Tech, the 2012 finals host, unavailable for both the semifinals and final — a fact Henderson said he found out late last week on a trip to Monroe, Ruston and Shreveport to discuss golf tournament sites.
Henderson put together three possible scenarios, including one that would have offered separate tournaments for boys and girls teams once again, something the Louisiana High School Basketball Association has lobbied for. Another option was to push the tournament back one week.
The committee voted for a revised third option, which put the boys-girls finals at a new site, which wound up being ULM from March 7-9. Southeastern Louisiana’s University Center and the Lake Charles Civic Center remain as regional semifinal sites on Feb. 29-March 2.
In its motion to accept ULM, SLU and Lake Charles as sites, the committee gave Henderson permission to negotiate with Shreveport-Bossier City as a third regional site, depending on cost.
Shreveport-Bossier expressed interest in hosting a tourney at the Bossier’s Century Linc Arena. The move comes less than a year after the Shreveport Sports Commission opted out of a contract to host the finals. If the Shreveport bid does not work out, SLU and Lake Charles will serve as the only regional hosts.
The committee also rejected a bid from its longtime boys Top 28 host, the Cajundome in Lafayette, citing a $60,000 charge and a planned $2 surcharge per ticket. All 2012 sites were offered free of charge, with sponsors underwriting arena rental and other costs.
“As a former coach, I definitely understand why the coaches want to separate the tournaments again,” committee member Tommy Hodges of Doyle said. “However, if we make commitments to universities, we need to do everything we can to uphold those commitments.”
Keeping the tournaments as they are allows the LHSAA to retain site sponsors who signed two-year contracts.
Henderson told the group he received numerous e-mails on Thursday from Louisiana Department of Education officials after the committee decided Wednesday not to give its stamp of approval to his first proposal that would have granted immediate eligibility for voucher or Student Scholarship for Educational Excellence Act students.
The proposal was one Henderson had worked with the DOE to formulate after the Louisiana Legislature passed the voucher act.
The executive committee approved a finalized proposal that will allow Louisiana Recovery School District schools to combine the resources of two schools while one is being phased out.
On Wednesday, the committee learned about Carver-New Orleans, which is being phased out so that Carver Learning Academy will take its place. The proposal passed on Thursday gives the RSD three years to phase out one school and limits those schools to grades 9-12 combined.
Shreveport won the two-year bid to host the LHSAA’s state golf tournaments at two sites, Shreveport Country Club and East Ridge Country Club will host the events, with boys teams set to play on Wednesday and Thursday at both sites. Girls teams will play the Shreveport Country Club on Monday and Tuesday.
The committee picked Shreveport over Monroe and a Baton Rouge-generated bid that included The Bluffs-St. Francisville and Zachary’s Copper Mill Golf Club.