Before diving into this, understand I tried to sum it up the best I could but I also wanted it to be informative. It is long but if you want to know 99% of the reason why the LHSAA is split and why things are done the way they are by the LHSAA, this will give you a good prospective.
I eliminated a majority of my opinionated rants and all of the following are first-hand accounts whether by email, conversations, meetings etc. of information I have accumulated over the years. Some of the stuff is old, some new but I wanted to put together a good time line of solid information that is reliable and truthful. I stand behind everything I wrote and will answer any questions any one has in regards to the information I have passed on.
Principals are dependable, leaders in our community. Why is it when they come to Baton Rouge or go into the LHSAA building it turns into the Jerry Springer Show. It doesn’t make sense and I’m not quite sure why it is tolerated.
Please feel free to ask questions at Facebook “Louisiana Prep Scoreboard” or on twitter @coachblackespn.
Then and Now…..The LHSAA
Section 1 The Purpose of the LHSAA
Section 2 The Freedom of Information Act
Section 3 How did we get here?
Section 4 Executive Committee vs Legal Counsel
Section 5 The Split had worked!
Section 6 Class B & Class C
Section 7 Recruiting
Section 8 Teams Win Championships, Individuals do not!
Section 9 Does a level playing field exist in athletics?
Section 10 Politics & Disconnects in Louisiana; Not a chance!
Section 11 Solutions and Rationale
Section 12 Sources
The Purpose of the LHSAA
Without a doubt the LHSAA was designed to always be about the student/athletes.
- The Constitution reiterates this thought multiple times. It is as simple as this, if the student/athletes did not exist nor would the LHSAA.
- On January 31, 2013, Louisiana’s Supreme Court declared the LHSAA a private corporation.
- After this ruling, then LHSAA Director Kenny Henderson was asked about addressing controversial situations within the LHSAA in which he responded:
“But we do it like every other private organization, within our own bylaws and under the direction of our own members. Unfortunately some in the Legislature sought unconstitutional remedies when things didn’t always go their way.”
Principals insist the LHSAA is a ‘Principal’s Organization’. I take exception to that simply because I believe it is their way of putting what they (the Principals) want ahead of what is best for the student/athletes.
When the LHSAA became a private organization, the only ‘checks and balances’ that remained for the LHSAA was the Constitution and the Executive Committee members.
LHSAA being declared a private organization brings up several questions.
- How are public tax dollars being used to pay principals to participate in a private organization? Most of the meetings are conducted during the week, during the day while schools are in session.
- During the playoffs a percentage of the gate goes to the LHSAA. Aren’t Public funds prohibited from going to a private organization?
The founders of the LHSAA purposely allowed private schools to go outside their home attendance zones for student/athletes so they could keep their doors open. They had no way to predict that certain areas of the state would have failing schools.
- The fact is the majority of private schools are in areas with either poor school systems or in heavily populated Catholic areas.
The last sentence of the LHSAA’s Mission Statement is:
“The LHSAA represents its member schools by recognizing and promoting academics, the safety of participants, competition, sportsmanship and life-long values as the foundation of Louisiana athletics.”
I can confidently say 4 of the 5 values of the LHSAA’s mission statement have been violated via the evolvement of the split.
Freedom of Information Act
In 2013 when the talk of the initial split came about, I ran the numbers myself and knew something was not right. The initial reasoning behind pushing for a split had “nothing to do with championships.”
As I saw the football scores getting more and more out of hand and hearing committee members patting themselves on the back claiming “the split had worked”, I could do nothing but shake my head. Not one of the split objectives was being met.
In 2014 Kenny Henderson was removed as the LHSAA’s Director. Prior to Henderson appointment to Director,
- He was named chairman head of a committee to look into “a split association.” These results were never published which leads me to believe the Association did not favor a split.
Prior to Henderson’s dismissal, the Executive Committee with Henderson’s guidance sent the membership a poll to be ranked 1-3.
Back Together Football Only All Team Sports 2 Branches
The results, which to my knowledge were not sent out to the principals, had getting “Back Together” as the memberships #1 choice.
- Also in 2014, the Executive Committee passed a motion made by current Executive Committee President Niles Riche stating there is NO further splitting of the LHSAA.
At the following years annual convention, those same committee members allowed a proposal to be put forth the membership that recommended an expanded split; then again in 2016 when 80% of that same Executive Committee was still intact. What is the point of a motion?
In December of 2014, the LHSAA made a new hire in Eddie Bonine. I thought it was a bad move until I started listening to what Bonine had to say. I also researched Bonine in Nevada; his top priority in Nevada and Louisiana has always been the student/athletes and to this day, I have seen no proof of him coming close to wavering off of that priority. The other part of the equation I did not see was that by choosing someone from outside of Louisiana it was clear the Executive Committee was ready to head in a different direction.
Considering the mess the LHSAA was in, credential wise Bonine was as experienced as anyone could hope for. Sitting on the Board of National Federation of High Schools, which the LHSAA participates, if Bonine did not know the answers, he had the resources to find them. Bonine does not get near the credit for what he has done for the LHSAA.
Although this Committee hired Bonine to get the Association back together (as was stated in the LHSAA minutes), this same Committee did not want the Association to get back together. Make sense?
So Bonine is notified in the interview process by the Executive Committee of his job expectations; he agrees and accepts the job. After being on the job for only 6 weeks, Bonine is forwarded an email chain plotting to get rid of him.
FYI. After a proposal is passed at an Annual Convention, it is the LHSAA staff’s job to ‘pull-through’ the proposal. In 2016 after the expanded split had passed, the LHSAA’s staff were running into issues with multiple cities and venues. They notified Bonine and in the April Executive Committee meeting the following was told to the Committee members.
- The “expanded split” could be a possible financial hardship for the Association. Sponsors had already pulled
- Jacob Doyle, media relations, explained to the committee that there will be multiple BYE’s and losing teams filling the brackets.
- Another staffer told the Committee there would be issues with venues and the “state championship” experience will be lessened for the student/athletes.
The Committee re-voted to have a Special June Meeting to come up with better alternatives; the meeting, with all the issues presented, barely passed 11-10. If all this is about the kids, I would think everyone would at least want to revisit the proposal. From there, the Executive Committee slammed Bonine; accusing him of not doing what the Principals voted on.
The question is does the Executive Director do what is best for the student/athletes and possibly lose his job or do what the Principals demand, which is not what is best for the student/athletes, and be a “yes man”?
Bonine also was asked to mend the LHSAA’s relationship with the legislature. Committee members didn’t help by arrogantly speaking down to legislators who were guest of the LHSAA at an April Executive Committee Meeting.
At this point, I am watching a great hire for our student/athletes being villified for doing nothing more than his job. I was left with two options:
- Sit back and do nothing like everyone
- Try to make a
I chose the latter and the Freedom of Information Act was my first move. The information that was revealed through FOIA was deplorable.
- The pinnacle was Jane Griffin’s email exchange with former Commissioner Tommy Henry. Griffin asked Henry twice if the Committee had enough on Bonine to fire him. These emails were both in March/April of 2016.
- December 2016, I spoke in front of the committee for the first time since I asked for their emails. It was at this time Griffin (Principal of Winnfield) made this comment to me in front of the media, Executive Director, the legal team and her peers:
“You have stated I called a former commissioner to try and get Mr. Bonine fired, that did not happen.” I said “you emailed him asking if we had grounds.” Her reply, “That did not happen. I have never emailed Mr. Henry asking him anything.” I have at least 20 emails between the two.
Prior to the meeting I knew things were corrupt; after that meeting I was 100% sure the student/athletes of this state were in the wrong hands. All a person has “is their word”; here is a Principal (supposedly the highest of high when speaking of character and integrity) lying in hopes of making herself look good by trying to discredit me.
But this type of exchange is who the LHSAA’s Executive Committee has become. If you agree that is acceptable conduct by a Principal, we do not have the same morals. However, it was said that I am preventing the Executive Committee from doing their job. The way I see it is they aren’t capable of doing their job when acting like the kids they oversee.
When public school committee members send out emails in regards to the split, 99% of those emails went to public school principals only, even though committee members represent public and private schools.
Tommy Hodges who represented Districts 7-12 in 2A was pro split all the way. The school Hodges represented voted against the split every time. He ignored his representing schools and did what was best for him. That is not the role of a EC member but Hodges character.
Some people believe I have a motive of some sort. I am a public school graduate who moved his family from East Baton Rouge to Ascension to receive a public school education. I coached at both public and private schools and have seen both sides.
I will say the amount of hours I have done researching numbers, reading emails and understanding the LHSAA’s Constitution is more than 99% of most people can claim.
I am doing it because the student/athletes of the state need a voice. I am doing it because as a coach I know kids learn life lessons from a competitive athletic environment. As adults our mistakes begin when we, as a society, choose to start rewarding athletes or kids for something they do not deserve; this is setting kids up to fail.
I don’t see Principals giving kids who make “F’s” and “A”; athletics deserves the same respect.
Other Notes From FOIA.
- Hodges deleted emails prior to the School Board retrieving his information from their server. The Superintendent of Livingston and his Assistant were notified about the situation but no response was received.
- Sharon Clark was also untruthful in her response to my FOIA request.
- Winn Parish was not able to fulfill by request due to an upgrade to their system. However the FOIA requires a three year hold on all public emails.
- One Parish wanted to charge me $21,000 for my request.
Here we go!
How did we get here?
In October of 1920 a group of both public and private high school principals met in Baton Rouge discussing ways to better regulate and develop the high school interscholastic athletic program. This meeting led to the formation of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association.
In 1962, the doors opened to John Curtis High School. John Curtis would prove to be a unique addition to the LHSAA due to the emphasis Mr. Curtis placed on success in the classroom and on the athletic field.
In 1975, the Patriots celebrated their first of 26 state championships to date. Their success not only gained the attention of this state, but the Patriots would become known as a national power.
In 1980 a school outside of Shreveport opened its doors, Evangel Academy. Evangel’s first varsity football game was 1990; their first championship 1993. Evangel has won:
- 4 Titles in 1A; 2 Titles in 2A; 3 in 3A; 4 in 5A; 1 in Division I
- A total of 14 championships from 1993-2017.
From 1993 to 2004, Evangel and John Curtis represented their classification as football state champions 8 times in the same year.
In 2005, 5A and 4A Principals led the LHSAA’s membership to pass a rule that forced schools to play back down in their enrollment classification.
- John Curtis went from 4A to
- Evangel went from 5A to
In 2005 & 2006 John Curtis and Evangel won football state championships in Classes 2A and 1A, respectively.
In 2007, Evangel joined John Curtis in Class 2A. From that point forward to 2012 either John Curtis or Evangel won the 2A State Championship.
In 2011, John Curtis beat Winnfield 33-3 in the state championship. The Principal of Winnfield is Jane Griffin. Griffin is the author of the Football Split Proposal, also known as Proposal 18.
Below are a few quotes from Griffin on why her proposal is necessary.
“There is no way a school can maintain that level of talent like that over a 30 year period without something else going on. In a normal situation, you go through cycles.”*
“The first things you look at when it comes to the LHSAA; is it in the best interest of student-athletes and is it fair and equitable.”
It seems as if Winnfield’s loss in the state championship accelerated Griffin’s motive for her proposal. A Principal should not be able to base a proposal around a few schools. This is exactly what took place, otherwise Griffin would have let it be known the results of the other private schools foes Winnfield played in 2011.
(5-1) St. Mary 35-0; Menard 48-6; St. Thomas Aquinas 41-0; Episcopal 27-24; Calvary, 41-21.
Winnfield started their 2011 playoff run by pounding Jeanerette 70-0.
In 2012, Winnfield played 3 private schools:
(3-0) St. Mary 45-12; Menard 62-0; Dunham 31-0.
In December of 2012, the LHSAA saw 4 out of 5 private schools win football state championships and at the 2013 Annual LHSAA Convention the football split proposal was on the agenda. Kenny Henderson was the Executive Director at the time and there were numerous legal questions surrounding this proposal.
The first is concerning the timeframe of when Griffin turned in Proposal 18 to the LHSAA. The deadline was November 15, 2012 and I can guarantee you that did not happen. On January 19, 2013 an article appeared in The Times Picayune that reviewed “LHSAA’s PROPOSAL 18.” The article begins “LHSAA PROPOSAL 18 CHART, FILED SATURDAY 1.19.13”.
On January 30, 2013 the proposal was passed by a 209-116 vote.
On January 31, 2013, the LHSAA was notified they were ruled a private organization. All accountability was now in the hands of the Executive Committee and the Executive Director.
After the proposal passed, Henderson asked for, paid and received another legal opinion from outside the LHSAA. The cost was $10,000 and the reasoning for the additional legal opinion remains unknown.
Until January of 2016, the only mention of this outside legal opinion usually came from Griffin claiming her proposal was legal and vetted.
Executive Committee vs Legal Counsel
When I speak of the Executive Committee, it’s important to point out that several serve on the Committee for the right reasons; some are contaminated by others and some are figuring it out.
After 5 years of the football split and one year out on the expanded split, not much has changed for the LHSAA’s student/athletes. The reason; nothing has changed with the Principals who run the LHSAA, the Executive Committee. I can tell you when people speak in terms of the LHSAA and the split, it defines a case where two sides of a story exist, yet people end up listening to one side and believe it to be the truth.
After witnessing several Executive Committee meetings, a few things are apparent.
- The Committee members do not fully understand the Constitution and its bylaws.
- The Executive Committee has the Association’s legal counsel, parliamentarian and attorney, at their disposal any time for clarification or explanation.
- The purpose of the legal counsel is to make sure the Constitution is followed.
- A Constitution is a legal document that protects the organization for who it operates; in the LHSAA’s case, the Constitution protects the student/athlete.
Issues between the Executive Committee and Legal Counsel begin when a proposal or motion is ruled “out of order” by the legal counsel.
- The most egregious example of this was in January 2016 when the LHSAA’s legal counsel advised Executive Director Eddie Bonine to nullify the split vote of 2013 (also known as the Football Split or Proposal 18).
- The legal counsel’s legal opinion was the proposal was “unconstitutional” based on articles 8.7.1, 8.7.2 and 8.7.4 of the constitution.
In January 2016, LHSAA Parliamentarian Brian Lejeune spoke to the Executive Committee, followed by Mark Boyer, LHSAA Attorney. Boyer addressed the committee in regards to his legal opinion and the 2013 paid for legal opinion. Boyer pointed out the following:
“In January 2013 another legal opinion (outside the LHSAA) was requested and received, and the general thought or perception is that legal opinion said everything is ok, that is not what it says. That legal opinion arrived at, essentially, at a very similar result as what I arrived at, although it did not cover 8.7.2.That legal opinion stated that the constitution was violated relative to 8.7.1 and 8.7.4. You violated your constitution, you are out of order. It is there as a governing document. The rules are there to be followed and you have to follow them. They are our rules.”
The LHSAA’s Executive Committee had just one “sticking point” to Boyer’s comments, ‘they felt as though they had done nothing wrong.’ Fair enough but isn’t this why you have a legal counsel? There are not one but now two legal opinions stating this proposal is ‘out of order’.
- The LHSAA wasted $10,000 for a legal opinion; why?
- What gives the Executive Committee the perception they don’t have to follow the Constitution?
It is not expected for Principals to understand the LHSAA’s legal system but it is expected for Principals to conduct themselves with character and integrity. By not doing so only hurts the student/athletes of the LHSAA.
- One committee member, Sharon Clark, wanted to see the proposal ratified because she wanted to best represent the principals of the state, who have voted in favor of the split three times since 2013.
- Norman Booker, Principal of Many High School and author of the 2016 expanded split is quoted as saying “I think the Executive Committee needs to step up and get that corrected. The membership voted on something and I think the Constitution should be changed to reflect that.”
- Eddie Bonine and his Legal Counsel tried to “step up and get this corrected.” However, it was not the type of “correcting” Booker was looking for. Booker wanted the Constitution to be revised to reflect the contents of an ‘out of order’ proposal.
Click on link below.
Executive Committee members feel their “opinion” weighs as much or more than a legal opinion. This misconception has continued throughout the “split era” or since the LHSAA was ruled a “private organization.”
- “What is the purpose of the legal counsel if they aren’t going to be used to their fullest capacity?”
I can certainly see why Ms. Clark wants to make sure she “best represents the Principals of the state and what they have voted on,” but shouldn’t it be equally as concerning to how an “out of order” proposal got to the floor for a vote? A proposal that is “out of order” violates the rights of the student/athletes which are given to them via their Constitution. What’s more important?
Realize in January of 2016 the membership (Principals) passed a Swimming Amendment, Rule 20.5.1, the Principals have spoken; Amendment passed 139-98.
- At the June 2016 Executive Committee Meeting, Lee Bellard motions to do away with the passed Swimming Amendment in which the Principals said they wanted. Jeffrey Sampson seconds.
- Neither Bellard, Principal of Church Point, nor Sampson, Principal of Arcadia, schools participate in swimming.
- Point is this proposal, to my knowledge, was constitutional. But If you are going to “best represent what the principals want”, shouldn’t it be an ‘all the time thing’?
Bonine was pressured into ratifying the 2013 Proposal by the 2016 Executive Committee. The Executive Committee happens to be Bonine’s judge, jury and executioner.
The Split has Worked!
Before the expanded split vote took place in 2016, many LHSAA Executive Committee members believe “the split has worked” or “it has been successful”. One principal went to the extent to say “if it is right for football, it is right for the Association.”
The problem with these comments is:
- No one has ever bothered to give any metrics to be able to evaluate whether the split could be considered a success or failure.
- No expectations were given because no one knew.
- No one knew because no other Association that struggles with private/public issues opted for this format.
- When you decide to run for the Executive Committee, you have decided to put what is best for the Association as your top priority.
- If something works for a committee member’s school, but not for the Association as a whole, you must address the situation.
Common sense tells us if anyone, at any level, in any business, is going to attempt to make a change of this magnitude (especially involving kids) you better put the legwork in. You should research your proposal thoroughly.
A few objectives, although vague, were made clear. The Executive Committee proclaimed the split would:
- Level the playing
- Create competitive
- Make things fair and equitable. Definition of ‘fair and equitable’ is: just and right; reasonable; equitable treatment of all citizens;
Below is Griffin’s attempt to meet the objectives of being ‘Fair and Equitable, Competitively Balanced with a level playing field”.
The discrepancy in enrollment clearly shows a lack of understanding of why classifications exist. According to the Constitution, classifications exist for competition and safety.
Using the same enrollment numbers Griffin used for the private divisions, I applied to the public classes. Here is Griffins “Public School version” of Fair and equitable.
- West Monroe vs Many in a football championship?
- Scotlandville vs Winnfield in a basketball championship?
- Barbe vs Doyle in a baseball championship?
Who would agree that these match-ups are “Fair and Equitable, a more level playing field; or more competitively balanced”?
But yet this EXACT proposal passed 209-116.
- To clarify, this proposal was promoted as having between 120-140 select schools.
- By the end of the meeting, Karr and a few other schools had already been reclassified from Select to Non-Select.
That should give you a better understanding of just how much of a circus this proposal was about to create.
In 2013 Kenny Henderson was quoted as saying:
“There is nothing that says you can’t vote on a bad proposal and fill in the blanks afterwards.”
As ridiculous of a comment that is this is exactly what started to materialize.
Eventually the Executive Committee (with a lot of pressure from the private schools) “changed a bad proposal” and decided the private schools would be better off using the following format for the 2013 football season.
As public schools remained in the same Classes as prior to the split; Private schools were tossed into 4 divisions (5 divisions for Expanded).
- Division 1 (5A)
- Division 2 (4/3A)
- Division 3 (2A)
- Division 4 (1A)
- Division 5 (non-football schools (B/C)
Forcing schools to play up or down a Class clearly goes against any definition of ‘fair and equitable’; it also goes against the LHSAA’s Constitution and its bylaws.
Whether you agree or disagree, Class 3A & Class C (Private Only) are “forced” to do something no other classification is asked to do.
The last time the LHSAA ‘forced’ anything, it happened in 2005 under Tommy Henry. Schools were not allowed to play up; they were forced to stay in the classification of their enrollment. Evangel went from 5A to 1A; John Curtis from 4A to 2A. This “force” started noticeable momentum for the split.
Has the split created competitive balance?
Newer facts on the football split show just how much the competitive factor has significantly weakened. The following is the percent of playoff teams with winning records before versus after the split.
Football only (2008-2012 vs 2013-2017) all 5 classes dropped.
- Class 3A went from 70.5% down to 4%.
- Class 2A went from 69% to 51%.
- Class 1A went from 66.7% to 8%.
Yes, not even half of the teams in Class 1A Playoffs (2013-2017) have had a winning record.
Since 2013, roughly 208 Non-Select Schools have been added to the football playoff mix.
- Under the combined format, none of these schools would have made the post-season.
- Of the 208 teams, ONLY 9% have won a 1st Round playoff game.
- The other 91% have lost by a margin of over 35 points per game.
There are many ways to determine competitive balance but I believe you are only as good as your weakest link. Therefore I looked at the last 4 teams to make the playoffs “the last four in” from 2008 to 2012 for Classes 2A & 1A and again from 2013 to 2017.
Class 2A (2013-2017):
- 7/20 teams were shut
- The 20 teams had a combined record of (32-166; outscored 1073-151).
- The winning percentage of the 20 teams is (.162). This means these 20 teams average 1.6
Those 20 teams consisted of:
- Six teams had 3
- Four teams had teams had 2
- Six teams had 1
- Four teams had zero
To compare, in Class 2A, 2008-2012:
- The 20 teams had a combined record of 86-112.
- The winning percentage of the 20 teams is (.434). These teams average 4.3
- Two teams during this time had 3 wins (seeded 31 and 32). One team (Jeanerette) had 2
Class 1A (2013-2017):
- 12/20 teams were shut
- The 20 teams combined record of (18-181; outscored 948-137).
- The 20 teams have a .091 winning percentage. These 20 teams do not average a win a
Those 20 teams consisted of:
- One team with 3
- One team with 2
- Thirteen teams had 1
- Five teams had zero wins.
To compare, in Class 1A from 2008-2012:
- Those 20 Teams had a combined record of 89-107.
- Their winning percentage of (.454). Averaging 4.5 wins
- Class 1A only had one team with 3 losses and one team with 2 losses.
Here is a quick look at the expanded split results that was touted as “being right for the entire association.” Expanded split included Boys and Girls Basketball as well as Baseball and Softball, the results are as follows:
|Since Select Schools in Classes 3 & 4 (Division 2) and B & C schools (Division 5) are forced to combine; I used their margins of victory twice. Therefore you have 14 comparators, not 12.|
|Boys Basketball, margins of victory, increased in 13 of 14 brackets.|
|Girls Basketball, margins of victory, increased in 9 of 14 brackets.|
|Baseball, margins of victory, increased in 11 of 14 brackets.|
|Softball, margins of victory, increased in 13 of 14 brackets.|
NOTE: It’s worth mentioning, I have found these numbers will not vary much after the first year. That was the case with football.
The major problem with these numbers is it is not even close; the membership is 12.5% away from making the playoff system 100% worse in terms of margins of victory. Yet Principals are proclaiming the split is a success!
A successful decision lives up to standards that would make most proud. In contrast, a poor decision never lives up to its expectations; usually falls short of its objectives and is surrounded by excuse makers refusing to admit they made a mistake.
After putting forth the effort to do the research, I had a very good idea of what was right around the corner. I only say this because I am an internet idiot. However I knew where to find the power rankings, eliminate the private schools, re-rank the public schools and then fill in a 32 team bracket; I repeated it 5 times (5 Classes); then I did the same for 2011 and 2010 and the results never got any better.
If you are upset with the private/public arrangement now or prior to the split, I have no problem with that; but put forth the time and effort to research what you are proposing. As a Principal, LHSAA member, LHSAA Director or Executive Committee member, you owe it to you very own student/athletes.
- On November 14, 2012 Jane Griffin sent out an email to her clique asking for suggestions on a proposal due the next day; how much “legwork” did she apply?
Class B & Class C
A side show to this circus is the public schools in Class B and C. These two classes have been an overwhelming proponent to the split. They do not participate in football, yet this was their voting breakdown in January 2013.
- Class B voted 26-2 in favor of the split.
- Class C voted 16-3 in favor of the split.
I would consider this a little bizarre to say the least, especially when you see the specifics on championships in these classes.
From 1991-92 to 2016 public schools for Classes B/C:
- Have won 48 out of 50 softball
- Baseball, public schools, 41/50
- Boys’ basketball 38 for 50. (7/12 won by defunct Reserve Christian.)
- Girls’ basketball has a clean sweep 50/50. (NEVER has a private school EVER won a girls basketball )
Class B and C voting results from 2016:
January 2016 June 2016
Class B 20-3 Class B 20-4
Class C 12-3 Class C 15-5
Below the surface of the splitting of these classes (Select 4/3A; Select B/C), is a financial loss that could force schools to either close their doors or shut down their athletic programs.
It is my estimate due to the split, basketball programs alone (boys and girls) lost 130 playoff games; this is a financial loss at the gate plus a loss in concessions. When you add baseball, softball and football – the losses are significant.
It is understandable Principals who voted for the split were unaware of the financial burden placed on private schools due to the loss of games. But the following about finances came up.
Referencing the start date of basketball, pro split Principal Todd Briley, Midland HS, stated “schools need to play before football ends because otherwise it would limit their chances to compete and generate revenue.”
Question for Mr.Briley:
“Mr. Briley, you obviously understand generating revenue via athletics is crucial. Why would you continue to support a separation of the LHSAA that clearly hurts select schools financially.
For Principals who believe the “split” has been a success because it has stopped “private school recruiting”, you need to pay attention to Truman Smith’s proposal from Kilbourne High School that will be voted on at the 2018 LHSAA Annual Convention. His objective he wants to accomplish by passing this proposal is “To end larger schools constant efforts to recruit the athletes of smaller schools.”
Is another split on the horizon?
The committee member’s lack of competency on the LHSAA’s Constitution and its handbook is also why members have the belief that private schools recruit.
- By LHSAA rules, private schools are allowed to enroll students from outside their attendance zones.
- By LHSAA rules, public schools are allowed to enroll students from outside their attendance zones.
- Recruiting is defined as the use of undue influence by anyone connected to a school to entice a student to transfer or stay at a school for athletic purposes.
Now that you know the definition, you would have to agree, without question, recruiting is and has happened in both public and private schools in all sports.
Over the years, everyone has received a piece of the blame for recruiting. The truth of the matter is the only group of individuals that have the authority and means to make the biggest difference are the principals. Can you fault them for not making “recruiting for athletic purposes” their top priority when they are judged on their students’ academic scores?
The Principal is responsible to the LHSAA. Principals are accountable to the LHSAA by making sure their coaches, teachers, students and parents understand the Constitution and Bylaws of the LHSAA. Some of the responsibilities of the Principals include:
- Signing off on all
- If a Principal has proof of another school recruiting, regardless of what there are “judged” on, it is their obligation to the membership to turn that school in. ONLY the Principal has this privilege. I have heard the excuse “If we turn them in, nothing ever ” Does not matter; every Principal should fulfill their obligation.
To close out the “recruiting/transfer issue”, the LHSAA staff compiled data from the 2015-16 school year. This analysis looked at 569 athletic transfers.
Of the 569 athletic transfers:
-189 (33%) were administered by the LEA (Local Education Authority).
Of the 189 administrative transfers (LEA):
-155 (82%) were within a public school system.
– 34 (18%) were non-public.
Overall 15%, only 89 out of the 569 athletic transfers went from a public school to a private school. The Executive Committee chose not to disburse this information to the membership because it did not support their narrative.
Teams Win Championships; Individuals Do Not!
Talent alone never has or will win a championship. Being successful is about a team of individuals working together to achieve one common goal. To achieve that goal takes effort, commitment, accountability and maintaining a positive attitude even when things are not going your way. What is great about athletic success is anything can happen on any given day, especially when you are “the underdog”.
Last season alone the LHSAA saw three ‘underdogs’ win championships.
- Class 2A Football Championship
- Sterlington was overmatched by 100 pounds and several inches a man by Madison Preps offensive and defensive lines. Based on talent alone, Sterlington should not have shown up. They did and they won.
- Class 5A Baseball Championship
- Ranked 10th nationally, West Monroe had already beaten Central 9-0.
- West Monroe had won 30 games in a row, scoring over 3 runs per game in 39/40 of their games.
- The Rebels held opponents under 3 runs a game in 33 of 40 games.
- Central beat West Monroe for the state championship 4-2.
- Class 5A Softball Semi-Final & Championship Games
- Semi-Finals: 36 days prior Ranked #3 nationally, Alexandria beat Central 21-1.
- Central’s rematch with Alexandria saw a 23 run turnaround.
- Central wins 8-5.
- Championship: Ranked 5th nationally, Ouachita previously beat Central 6-3.
- The underdog Lady Wildcats win the state championship 3-1!
Probably the most impressive display of teamwork happened this past December and late November during football season.
- Division 1 2017 Football State Quarters, Semis & Championship Games
‘Catholic finished 3rd in district behind St. Amant and East Ascension, losing to both of them.’
- Quarters: Catholic High host St. Augustine.
- Aug is famous for their band and great athletes.
- Aug failed to get in the end zone.
- Catholic wins 7-3.
- Semis: Catholic traveled to the defending state champion, Evangel.
- Any question who had the most D-1 recruits?
- Evangel, known for a powerful offense, scored 6 points.
- Catholic High did not score an offensive touchdown.
- Evangel had more recruits, CHS had more points. Catholic 14, Evangel 6.
- Finals: Catholic faced national power John Curtis.
- No team has ever beat Evangel and John Curtis in successive games.
- Catholic High wins 20-14.
Catholic High winning the Division 1, 2017 State Football Championship proves no matter the talent you face, you have a chance to win if you believe in yourself and your teammates.
Coaches will never give up on their kids. Today’s Principals have different standards for athletics than for their classrooms and that sends a poor message to the students.
- Today’s Principals are described as academies’. A vast majority of academia principals do not see the value of athletics and the life lessons it provides.
- However, the same work ethic and commitment it takes to win athletically is the same work ethic and commitment it takes to win academically.
The playoff system the principals have chosen for athletics is equivalent to a grading scale that looks similar to below.
I understand Principals are in a tough spot.
- They are judged based on the quality of education they provide their students.
- Combine that with the emphasis of the State improving the public education system and the pressure is high on Principals; but so is the turnover rate.
My question is:
“Do principals no longer have the time and understanding to put forth the effort needed to make the best decisions for their student/athletes?”
Does a “level playing field exist in athletics?
To act as if the split benefitted no one would be unfair; however a proposal is not about a handful of schools; it’s about what is best for the entire association.
Has the split “leveled the playing field”?
- Ask the Huntington softball team who drove over 6 hours and over 300 miles to play 3 innings and lose 15-0 with each girl batting only once; then they had to jump back on the bus for the same
- Ask St. Katharine softball coach who went out of town after the season because she knew there was no way a “0 for” team make the
- Mentorship softball traveled to Rosepine, played 3 innings & lost 30-0.
- Girls Basketball, General Trass lost 100-5 to Red
- Boys Basketball, Madison Prep beat Ringgold 134-32.
- Beekman Charter baseball 19-0 winner over
- Merryville 22-2 over Red
Nothing is more telling than looking at the 2012 Football Power Rankings; you will find Bunkie (1-9) and a 50 seed. In 2013 Football Power Rankings, Bunkie is (1-9) and a 31 seed.
Combine the above results with the fact that 87.5% of the playoff brackets margins of victory have increased after the split and the question about a level playing field are answered.
Trying to “level a playing field” or “make things fair and equitable” based ONLY on a traditional attendance zone is a little naïve; it requires multiple tweaks in multiple areas. Both public and private schools have the means to pull kids from outside their attendance zones with federal mandates (M&M/ school choice) along with the LEA (local education authority).
Click on this link for more details:
Athletic programs are bigger than one person, coach or team. Other factors that determine the success of your school’s athletics:
- It is a fact some administrations care more about athletics than Some Principals see no value in sports.
- Pay scales school
- Feeder programs (middle school)
- Last but not least academics. This is the number one reason people choose private schools over
In the day and time when the easiest thing to do is for people to point their finger in the other direction, athletically that is not the answer. That answer won’t fly in the real world. Coaches try to control what they can control; not change the system to make it easier for them to win.
Politics & Disconnects in Louisiana; Not a Chance!
This topic has seemingly been kept quiet but one notable “political issue” that was on a similar timeline as the LHSAA’s split is Bobby Jindal’s school voucher program.
The ‘Voucher Program’, passed in April 2012, was a state funded program designed to help low to middle class children from public schools get a better education by attending a private school.
Is it possible Principals used ‘the football split’ as a means of retaliating against private schools? All sources and evidence I have received indicates proponents of the split used the voucher program as propaganda to get the split passed.
- The realization of the different cultures which cause for different education choices across the state. For example, school systems in East Baton Rouge, Orleans, Caddo, to name a few, are some of the worst in the country. As parents we want the best for our kids, and a lot of times the only answer is a private school.
- Visit www.Louisianabelieves.gov; click on ‘school performance scores’ and imagine what you might do if you lived in an area of low performing schools.
- The Catholic religion is to S. Louisiana as Baptist to N. Louisiana. Families, through generations, have opted for a catholic school education based of their belief system.
Perfect example of ”a disconnect” comes from the author of the 2013 football split and Principal of Winnfield, Jane Griffin. In December 2016 Griffin said to me in an Executive Committee meeting “I don’t know what goes on in other parishes, but I know what goes on in mine”. How can she or anyone else with this mindset write a proposal for the entire state?
The Constitution does not have any guidelines for conduct or behavior for the Executive Committee but the disconnect comes when Principals who are acting as Principals believe they have zero standard.
- Some committee members lack character and integrity. Because no one has or will hold committee members accountable.
- Time and time again they have been dishonest to their peers, each other and the student/athletes
In my opinion the problems of the LHSAA are summed up in the last sentence. C.S. Lewis said it best,
“Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching.”
No one has been watching the Executive Committee since January 31, 2013 when the LHSAA became a Private Organization.
Solutions and Rationale
This situation is unbelievably complex. There are different emotions, beliefs and knowledge of what is and what is not the truth.
The Executive Committee (25 total) has:
- North/South Representative for each class. (14)
- Public schools are the majority in every classification.
- One spot goes to a “non-public” Principal.
Other seats are given to:
Past President, At-Large (3), Board of Education, Superintendents Association, School Board Association, Athletic Director’s Association, Coaches Association (2).
In January of 2016, Board of Education, Superintendents Association, AD’s and Coaches Association all voted against the split.
Unless the Executive Committee is revamped, the issues within the LHSAA will only be resolved by people who truly care about all of our student/athletes. I am not talking strictly about the split. This pertains to anything athletically.
Solutions to consider for the LHSAA:
First I want to address why the margin of victory has increased so dramatically?
- The Power Ranking system will still work however the bracket should be half of the size of the amount of teams in the class or division.
- A 32 team bracket, 50 – 60 teams per class is ideal.
- A 16 team bracket for lower classes (2A/1A) is the solution for those who insist on staying split. This is the only way a 2/1A bracket can be competitive as well as maintain its integrity.
- Classes B/C must combine. Splitting is not an option.
Take a look:
**I used Many’s information because I have already done the calculations. This is not about Many. This is common across 2A/1A/B/C in all split sports.**
Using a combined format, Many’s 1st Round opponents from 2013-2017 would have had an overall combined record of (32-18 with a .640 winning pct). This bracket proves to be competitive and held its integrity.
When using a split format, Many’s 1st Round opponents weakened tremendously with a combined record of (6-44 with a .120 winning pct). This is a significant change when thinking in terms of brackets being competitive and holding its integrity.
Many also outscored these teams 296-13. This is an average of 59.2 to 2.6.
From 2013-2017, if 2A reduces its brackets to 16 teams, Many’s 1st Round opponents would have been an even .500. In 5 years, 2A would have had only two losing records out of 90 teams. Currently under the split format, 2A has 77 out of 160.
In 1A from 2013-2017, a reduced bracket of 16 looks considerably better with only 13 of 90 teams having losing records. Currently 43% of teams in the 1A brackets have winning records.
Any public school argument against reducing these brackets to 16 teams is hypocritical. It can’t be both ways if your objective is to do right by the student/athletes. When doing things right, you can only go about it one way.
Principals working within the LHSAA must be held accountable, therefore:
- Principals who shine a bad light upon the Association due to their behavior and or activities should be removed If Principals ask their students to carry themselves with character and integrity, shouldn’t Principals be held to the same standard?
- Any Proposal that is put in front of the membership that changes format, reclassifies schools or involves more than one classification should be fully researched for one year prior to the vote. The objectives need to be clear, direct and given to the Executive Committee prior to the “one year trial period”.
- When anyone from a child to a CEO of a corporation is “forced” to do anything, the outcome is never what the enforcer hoped it would be. Instead of telling a school where to play, allow public schools to choose who they want to
Here is how #3 would work. The LHSAA would consist of two divisions:
- Plays other schools that only draw from their home attendance
- In agreeing to play in this division, if your school qualifies for any federal mandates or enrollment overrides by the Local Education Authority, you are agreeing to forfeit them, as well as any other student/athlete from outside your attendance
- For those schools that want to play “apples to apples”, your need is met.
- Plays schools that accept kids from outside their attendance zone for any reason including federal mandates, LEA judgements, or parochial
Ultimately ever school, ever city or town, every school system is different; allow the schools to choose the path they wish to travel. Why not?
If this is not your answer, I suggest calling the LHSAA Hall of Fame Members and get them involved; if you can’t trust them, they should not have been put in the Hall of Fame.
The game needs to be given back to the student/athletes. These answers aren’t rocket science but are rational. Right now the LHSAA Executive Committee needs to step back and re-evaluate who they are as a person, principal and Educator. Bringing integrity & character back to the game is the first step in bringing integrity & character back to the membership.
The Times Picayune