“Being Bonine”; Wearing the shoes of the LHSAA’s Director

I’m going to bring you back to 2014 when Eddie Bonine was brought to Louisiana from Nevada to be the next LHSAA Commissioner. Regardless of what some of the Executive Committee members then thought, it is documented that Bonine’s job description included getting the LHSAA back together.

Shortly after Bonine started his stent as the LHSAA’s Executive Director, there are documented email chains among the Executive Committee trying to fire Bonine for doing exactly what he was hired to do. These emails were primarily ‘to and from’ public school principals who served on the Executive Committee. Through this entire debacle, Bonine has kept doing his job while staying on the “high road.”

Bonine has been quoted many times as saying “I do not make the rules, I only enforce them” and he has, by the LHSAA handbook verbatim. For the record, EVERY RULE in the handbook has been proposed and approved by Principals of the membership.  What the Principals of the LHSAA are starting to realize is Bonine is not playing around; Bonine is abiding by the LHSAA handbook in every ruling he has made. Some may not agree and some may interpret certain rules differently but that happens every day.

FYI, the 2013 proposal that initiated the split is unconstitutional; that’s not my words but rather the words of two different attorneys’ whom the LHSAA had requested their legal opinion.

Moving on to present day; now the membership is realizing Bonine is honoring his commitment to the student-athletes, the LHSAA office is receiving more and more inquiries on recruiting and ineligible players. These inquiries have to be instigated by a member school. I have seen a lot of articles, on and off the internet, that chastise Bonine and the LHSAA for handing out such harsh penalties on kids. Think about this, when the Principals voted to split the association, who did the split hurt the most? Parents? No; Coaches? No; Principals? No; the kids; YES.

The student-athletes do not want the split. The student-athletes want to play the best competition in the best environment playing for the highest prize, but who ruined that possibility for them? Principals, the adults! Being Bonine allows you to see Bonine does what he does for the student-athletes but it’s all student-athletes. The last thing Bonine wants to do is suspend student-athletes from playing; the problem for Bonine is when the overwhelmingly majority play by the rules, therefore to allow someone who doesn’t play by the rules to play is a slap in the overwhelmingly majorities face.

So Being Bonine is a piece of cake. Some wanted him to get the association back together per his job description; most wanted him fired for doing his job. Since Bonine has been asked to “get a handle on the private school recruiting, it is outrageous”; and “enforce the rules”; but shouldn’t one be careful what you ask for? Bonine is doing what he was asked to do; the unexpected part of the equation is most were very naïve about who recruits. The reality is EVERYONE in this state, and everyone in every other state recruits in high school. Now that this is being exposed, more and more penalties are being handed down; these penalties usually punish the school and the player in question if found guilty. When the violations are made public, the outcry from the public is “they are kids; you have to let them play.”

Being Bonine takes a special gift. Being Bonine is a tough job; because ‘Being Bonine’ is knowing that by doing your job correctly, you will not be liked by many but respected by everyone. Not to put words into Bonine’s mouth but I would bet Bonine would sacrifice his ‘likeness’ by others for the gain of putting the state’s high school student-athletes back to the forefront where they should have been all alone.