A Reoccurring Topic: The LHSAA & a ‘Honest Human Error’

(Best read on PC)
“The LHSAA’s worst human error of all wasn’t honest!”
By: Todd Black

October 30, 2015 (Byrd, Huntington and Southwood playoff ban)
A 10-year LHSAA rule (Rule 9.3) was violated by these three schools because they were found to have student-athlete’s enrolled in multiple athletic physical education classes. “From day 1 we self-reported and have been very transparent.”

The following is Rule 9.3.

“If a school allows a student to violate this rule the school shall be ruled immediately ineligible for varsity state championship honors in the sport in which the student competes or has competed.” The rule continues “the principal is directly responsible to the association to his/her school’s strict compliance with these rules.”

This rules violation is 100% human error.

Rule 3.3.of the LHSAA’s Constitution:

“It shall be a school’s responsibility to educate its student-athletes, coaches and other appropriate persons on all LHSAA rules, including eligibility rules along with potential penalty rulings that could affect them. Additionally, a school shall be required to monitor its compliance with all LHSAA constitutional rules and bylaws.”

Recruiting violations, ineligible players all human errors.

Now common sense should tell us any LHSAA infraction, penalty or rules violation is a human error of some sort by an adult. You will never eliminate ‘human error’ but you can put policies in place that help limit the amount of human errors that can occur. Example, any time an official overturns another official, a human error is potentially being eliminated. Therefore when a rule reads such as the baseball pitch count policy (Rule 10.4), it is the responsibility of both coaches to meet after every inning to compare pitch counts. It is not an option; the coaches have to do it. It never was a choice, it’s a rule.

Consequently because the St. Thomas Aquinas Coach chose not to follow this part of the rule, it’s only fair that his negligence is considered an “human error.” Lastly, Rule 10.4 also includes “if two of three pitch count recorders do not agree, the official pitch count falls to the third party which is the LHSAA. As of today, the game changers still read St. Thomas Aquinas 135; Notre Dame 134 and the LHSAA had 128. It’s not my job to critique the pitch count of record being 128; it is my job to point out the rule was followed based on how the rule reads. It is simple; two of the three pitch recorders did not match. In this case, Rule 10.4 says you must default to the pitch count of the official pitch recorder and his count of 128.

Speaking of human error, I have read two articles on the Division III Baseball finals in which both journalist criticize the LHSAA for calling the pitch count debacle a ‘honest human error.’ Both journalists also accuse the official pitch recorder of not counting foul balls. Simple math and a little research can provide the answer to see if the accusation is correct or a ‘human error’.

The official pitch count was 128; if the accusation is correct:
– adding 16 foul balls to the official pitch count would move the official number to 144.
If for any reason someone wants to go the other way with the pitch count:
– subtracting 16 foul balls from the official pitch count would move the official number to 112.

As sources, I used both the St. Thomas Aquinas and the Notre Dame game changer recordings. Recapping 6 different counts: St. Thomas Aquinas had 135; St Thomas Aquinas had another with 128; Notre Dame had 134; LHSAA review with 132; Official Pitch Recorder had 128 and I had 134. The pitch count variance was from 128-135; if foul balls come into question the variance is 112-144. Since none of the six pitch counts are close to either 112 or 144, you can confidently conclude that foul balls were not the reason pitch count was off.

As proven here, human errors can be found anywhere but honest mistakes opposed to negligent mistakes are two different type errors.

‘The LHSAA has set a new precedent,the LHSAA won’t enforce its own rule book’. These are several quotes from the same articles I referred to earlier. The ‘new precedent’ was set in 2013 when the LHSAA was ruled to be a private organization. That ruling is what led not only to the LHSAA not following its own rule book, but the Executive Committee not following its own Constitution. Referring once again to 2013, the LHSAA made an error.The LHSAA was told it was an error. Instead of acknowledging the error, the LHSAA moved forward as if nothing was wrong.
This type of error made by the Executive Director, Jane Griffin and the Executive Committee is arrogant, intentional and unbecoming of a Principal. This human error allowed the 2013 football split proposal to be voted on; then again in 2016 for the expanded split to be voted on.

This error was brought to the forefront when in January of 2016 the LHSAA’s legal team was given a task “if we (the LHSAA) wanted to create divisions, how would we go about doing that?”

(In order for the 2013 split to take place, divisions had to be created. So when this task was requested, divisions were already a part of the football split. After the split had passed, the LHSAA’s Executive Director at the time Kenny Henderson, requested another legal opinion from an outside law firm. No one knows why the request was made by Henderson but it cost the Association 10 grand. As you will soon find out, the LHSAA knew in 2013 the football split was out of order.)

Later that January when the task was answered, the LHSAA’s legal team addressed the Executive Committee meeting. First up was LHSAA Parliamentarian Brian LeJeune followed by LHSAA attorney Mark Boyer. Here is the basis of his comments.

“If you want to create divisions, you have to follow your constitution.” Boyer states he was a little confused because he was not there but he had heard in 2013 the LHSAA sought another legal opinion outside of the Association and everyone assumed that legal opinion said everything was ok. That is not what it said. That legal opinion and my legal opinion arrived essentially at very similar results: “the constitution was violated relative to 8.7.1 and 8.7.4. Those things you violated are part of your constitution and you are out of order; it is there as a governing document. It is there to tell you how to run your organization. The rules are there to be followed and you have to follow them. They are our rules.”

In hindsight, we now know the Executive Committee was fully aware that the vote in 2013 should have never taken place. Then in 2016 the Executive Committee knew there wasn’t just one but two legal opinions that agree the 2013 football split proposal is ‘out of order’.

Why wasn’t the first question from the Executive Committee “How do we correct this mistake (human error)?”

Why is the timing of this finding so crucial?

At the 2016 annual convention another proposal was on the agenda to split the association even further. The ‘pro-split’ contingent knew if the 2013 proposal was ruled ‘out of order’; the 2016 proposal would be ‘null and void’ as well.

The major cog in the wheel is the Executive Committee knew the 2013 proposal was out of order; it went against the LHSAA’s constitution. However, the Executive Committee made a bad mistake worse by not acknowledging the breach. This is a major problem for the Department of Education and the LHSAA; here is why.

Disregard what the topic is, just the fact a group of Principals, who get paid by your tax dollars, had the audacity to ignore a governing document that rules an association put in place for student-athletes. To intentionally breach a constitution shows a complete and total lack of regard for who the constitution protects; which in this case is any student-athlete that participates in high school sports in the state of Louisiana.

Why is this the worst human error the LHSAA has experienced? Under no circumstances should the Executive Committee be allowed to ‘sell out’ the student-athletes that participate in the LHSAA. Under no circumstances should the Executive Committee be allowed to disregard the Associations Constitution; hence the reason the LHSAA has a legal team on retainer for every meeting. The LHSAA’s Constitution is in place to protect the members for whom it operates, the student-athletes. If the Executive Committee isn’t going to hold their very own Constitution to its highest standard, who will?

The ‘checks and balances’ are in place; a breach only occurs when done with intent. That is a blatant human error. How can errors like this take place? At the LHSAA, Principals are not held accountable to anyone except for who they see in the mirror. At their school Principals are held accountable by their school board and superintendent. Therefore this human error lies in the hands of the Executive Committee.
Speaking of school boards and superintendents, do you think a committee member would stand up in front of their Superintendent or School Board showing the same disrespect to their “Articles of Business” as they have shown to the LHSAA’s Constitution?

The founding members of the LHSAA set this organization up correctly when everyone is pulling their weight. The major hiccup is if the LHSAA is going to be made up of Principals, Principals HAVE to be consistent. When Principals make decisions at their schools, those decisions are made based on what is best for all their students. The LHSAA is set up the exact same way per their constitution. Principals are expected to make decisions for the LHSAA using the same morals and principles as they would with their own school.

I want to clarify my voice versus Principals; I have no higher respect for the principals that do things like they should. As with any profession, bad apples exist; the LHSAA is no exception. I believe this was the case with the majority of the members on the Executive Committee from roughly, 2010-2016.

Principals are in a position of influence; often they are our kid’s role models. In this case the principals purposely went against core value’s we as parents hope to instill in each of our kids when discussing character and integrity and for what; a sports trophy?

Ask yourself this simple question, who would you rather your son or daughter emulate; a person that owns up to a mistake or someone who points his finger at others to blame. But for now, as coaches we tell our players “it is not about the mistake you make, it is about how you react to it.” The LHSAA admittedly made a mistake; why don’t we give them the same opportunity we give our players. Let’s see how they react to it.