Select school administrators discuss options for dividing LHSAA

Louisiana High School Athletic Association vice president David Federico made it clear Friday’s meeting of select school administrators and coaches was as much about options as it was about opposition to proposals that would split the association into separate playoffs.

“It’s more about what if, and what position we should take,” said Federico, an Ecole Classique principal and coach. “I don’t think we should go into this saying, ‘If this passes we should withdraw from the association.’ That’s not what we’re here about.

“I also think there is a lot of confusion about the proposals. And we hope to clear some of that up.”

Federico and LHSAA Executive Director Kenny Henderson addressed the group of more than 60 in attendance at Episcopal. Though most of those in attendance were from south Louisiana, representatives from Cedar Creek-Ruston and Evangel Christian-Shreveport also attended.

With the LHSAA’s annual convention set to start Wednesday at Crowne Plaza in Baton Rouge, the group discussed the two proposals — one that would divide the association into separate playoffs for select and nonselect divisions in major team sports starting in 2015-16, and a proposal for separate playoffs for football only starting this fall.

“There are a lot of unknowns, especially with Mr. (Marlin) Ramsey’s proposal,” Henderson said. “There are some things the executive committee will have to step in and do immediately if Dr. (Jane) Griffin’s proposal passes.

“There are some questions you need to ask.”

Federico and other speakers, including Episcopal Athletic Director Myra Mansur, stressed the importance of reaching out to other select schools in each area to make sure they plan to attend the convention that ends Friday with a possible vote on the select/nonselect proposals and other agenda items.

Under the team sports proposal by former South Beauregard Principal Ramsey and the football proposal from a group of principals led by Winnfield Principal Jane Griffin, select and nonselect schools would play together in districts and would then branch off to separate playoffs.

By definition in both plans, a nonselect school is a traditional public school with a set attendance zone. Select schools are private or public schools whose admission policies allow them to select which students attend their schools.

The LHSAA’s 90 private schools, 19 charter, eight full magnet schools and eight lab schools fall into the select school category, along with 21 dual-curriculum schools with magnet components. Ramsey’s proposal says a dual-curriculum school that draws 33 percent of its magnet students from outside its attendance would be select. Griffin’s proposal lists the percentage as 25 percent. The LHSAA has 388 member schools.

Both plans would allow for five championships for nonselect schools and two for select schools.

“That’s one of things we don’t know,” Henderson said. “We don’t have those figures or percentages, but if either of these proposals passes, we’ll have to go to each school and find them out.”

Federico and Henderson also pointed out a key fundamental difference for voting purposes. Ramsey’s proposal was tabled last year, and requires a vote to be taken off the table in order to be considered.

Because it is a new item, Griffin’s proposal could come to a vote, or be tabled.

In addition to seeking all select schools to attend the meeting, the group discussed contacting schools in Class B-C along with principals in Louisiana’s largest two classes, 4A and 5A. The rationale is both plans would eliminate the autonomy B-C schools have, and that much of the public-school opposition has come from schools in 3A and below.

In addition to discussing options to defeat or table the proposals, possible amendments were discussed, as were safety issues. Henderson suggested administrators and coaches attend Thursday’s LHSAA and sports medicine roundtable discussions, and pose those questions and others, including queries about how playoffs would work.

St. Charles Catholic Athletic Director Frank Monica suggested amending the proposals to allow for three nonselect championship divisions. Others said that type of amendment would send the message that the proposal was being accepted.

The group also discussed getting key spokesmen to articulate their views. Teurlings Catholic-Lafayette Principal Mike Boyer agreed to be one of those speakers. The group also asked Federico and Henderson about the views of the executive committee.

Several speakers, including Karr-New Orleans Principal John Hiser and Catholic-Baton Rouge track and cross country coach Pete Boudreaux talked about how passing either proposal would change the LHSAA as it is now known.

Notre Dame-Crowley Athletic Director Lewis Cook asked if Henderson or the executive committee would make a statement.

Henderson declined, noting that he has to enforce any policies that are approved by all member principals.

“The previous commissioner (Tommy Henry) would tell you how to vote,” Henderson said.

“I’ve tried to go in the opposite direction and stay out of the process.”