LHSAA reorganization plan on convention agenda

Though the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s annual convention is still six weeks away, another battle over how the association’s schools will be organized in the future is looming.

A proposal to divide schools into separate championship divisions based on the select and nonselect nature of their enrollment was tabled in January is back. Meanwhile, a new proposal that would divide schools for football only is also on the 2013 agenda reviewed by the LHSAA’s executive committee on Tuesday.

It was the first portion of a two-day meeting that will conclude Wednesday with more general business starting at 9 a.m. At 1 p.m., the committee will review and approve a final districting plan for 2013-14 and 2014-15.

“All you had to do last year was be in the room to know that the frustration level was very high,” Lutcher Athletic Director Tim Detillier said after the meeting. “It’s the fear of the unknown.

“You want to vote on something, but you don’t know the answers to some of the questions about where schools will fall. I think we owe it to the schools to be able to answer all their questions so we can have an intelligent vote.”

The original 2011-12 proposal by then South Beauregard Principal Marlin Ramsey, an LHSAA past president, had schools playing in traditional districts and then breaking off to play in separate championships.

For example, Ramsey’s plan had six champions for football, four from nonselect or traditional public schools and two for select schools, a group that would include private schools, magnet schools, dual curriculum schools, laboratory schools and charter schools.

Before Ramsey’s proposal was tabled at the January 2012 meeting, it was amended to include seven divisions — five nonselect championship divisions for most sports and two for select schools. It was also noted during the meeting that all five of last weekend’s football champions would be classified as select schools and that only three traditional public schools — Barbe in 5A, Neville in 4A and Haynesville in 1A — played for titles.

Several other questions were raised. The fact Ramsey is no longer a principal was noted. He now is a supervisor in the Beauregard Parish School Board office. Ramsey attended the meeting and said new SBHS Principal Tammy Crain will handle the proposal.

Hackberry Principal Carl Langley questioned the role of nonfootball schools in Class B and C in the plan.

“We (Class B and C schools) are not in this to hurt the football schools,” Langley said. “I feel like we’re about to be railroaded if we don’t come together. How can you expect us to compete with the larger schools?”

LHSAA Executive Director Kenny Henderson pointed out that the smallest division under the new plan would likely put B-C non-select schools in group with enrollment of 142 or less.

Questions about what constituted a dual curriculum school and about charter schools that are not allowed to select or limit their enrollment were also raised.

“It’s going to be the same arguments from last year,” Henderson said. “You’re going to have some schools that will be very much in favor of this and others that won’t be. It will be a question of whether or not the schools want to do it all or whether they just want to do football to see how that works.”

The proposal to go with football only for select/nonselect championships was put on the agenda by six member principals from traditional public schools.

LHSAA President Brent Vidrine says the issues involve more than football.

“Clarification is a big issue with this … just know where schools will fall,” Vidrine said. “For some of them there is a gray area. Football may seem to be issue, because the championships are played on such a big stage. But it’s really an issue in a lot of sports.”

Classification notes

The LHSAA’s final districting proposal for 2013-15 has some notable 3A changes. It sends John Curtis and LaPlace’s St. Charles Catholic back to a New Orleans-based district, 11-3A.

Also notable is that Port Allen and Brusly shift to 7-3A with Baker, Glen Oaks, Parkview Baptist, University and West Feliciana. Livonia moves from 7-3A back to an Acadiana-based 5-3A.

Appeals, etc.

The executive committee overturned a ruling that made Dutchtown High’s Ali McCoy ineligible based on the fact she played one weekend for a summer league team coached by a DHS nonfaculty assistant coach before enrolling at the school.

According to documents provided, McCoy moved from Maurepas to Dutchtown in late May after her mother won a custody battle that involved her and a younger sibling. Maurepas softball coach Amanda Ortego spoke on McCoy’s behalf, stating her school did not contest the move.

Two other rulings were upheld. One found no undue influence or wrongdoing by Notre Dame High with regard to a student that moved there from an Iota-area alternative school. Iota Principal Gibson Miller called the ruling a “sham.” Miller and NDHS coach Lewis Cook spoke to the committee.

The committee also upheld a ruling that made two E.D. White Catholic eighth-graders ineligible based on the fact they failed to finish middle school in their previous public-school system.