Melodrama continues for LHSAA
By robin fambrough
July 14, 2012
Let the melodrama continue, at least for a little while longer.
That’s one of the messages that came out of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s summer meeting held last week.
The LHSAA executive committee decided not to make school voucher students eligible immediately, going instead for the likely option of a special-called meeting by President Brent Vidrine, of Monroe’s Neville High, later this summer.
A little melodrama can be a good thing. But in this instance, I’m just not sure.
I definitely understand why the committee wants a special-called meeting. That way, all LHSAA member principals get a vote on the eligibility for high school students who will be part of the Student Scholarship for Excellence Act passed by the Louisiana Legislature this spring.
No one likes being dictated to, including principals. And that’s what the legislature has done by creating the voucher program.
But the program lists the possibility of 367 voucher spots for 2012-13, a small fraction of students in Louisiana’s overall scheme of things. The committee fears the number will grow and there are concerns about private schools using the voucher program to recruit athletes.
Several committee members say they’ve heard it’s already happening. The fact that voucher spots will be awarded through a blind lottery would seem to reduce the odds for recruiting.
No one knows how many voucher applications the Louisiana State Department of Education will receive or how many voucher students will be athletes.
This may turn out to be much ado about very little. We’ll see.
And we’ll also have to wait and see what happens with the LHSAA’s Top 28 basketball tournaments in 2013. The LHSAA’s first combined boys-girls basketball tournament since 1982 didn’t attract the attendance anticipated or the widespread support of coaches in 2012.
NCAA-mandated changes to college basketball season dates made last year’s finals site, Louisiana Tech, and one regional semifinal site, the University of Louisiana at Monroe, unavailable.
The executive committee decided to make ULM the finals site, spurning the long time boys Top 28 host, Lafayette’s Cajundome, and a proposed return to separate tournaments for boys and girls.
It’s fair to say that the LHSAA and tourney organizers in Lafayette have had their issues in recent years. The Cajundome’s bid included a $60,000 facility rental fee and a $2 surcharge per ticket.
Other sites, including 2012 regional host sites Hammond (SLU), Lake Charles (Lake Charles Civic Center), ULM and finals site Ruston (Louisiana Tech) all garnered sponsors to cover the facility rental and other expenses.
In an article that appeared in The Advertiser, the Cajundome’s Greg Davis was quoted as saying the cost reflected the fact that the LHSAA wouldn’t allow Lafayette organizers to seek sponsors.
In all fairness, the LHSAA’s bid specifications list says, “No solicitation of other vendors by Host shall be allowed without written consent of the LHSAA.”
So sponsors are possible. The clause is meant to prohibit sponsors who compete with the LHSAA’s existing sponsors.
The rift between the two groups continues.
Like I said before, let the melodrama continue.
A different ring
Coaches in Baton Rouge and Louisiana, for that matter, are used to calling my cell phone. And I don’t want to miss any calls.
But I do have a new number that I have been able to distribute to some coaches during the last two weeks. Coaches who don’t have my new number should send me an email at email@example.com.