Eligibility Rule Change Discussion Highlights First Day of LHSAA Executive Committee Meeting

by Hunter Bower // GeauxPreps.com Owners

The meeting room was packed at the LHSAA home office Tuesday as the organization convened for its September executive committee meeting. 

However, it was not to address the ongoing Non-Select/Select situation. The meeting spent a significant period addressing the topic of school and athletic attendance zones as school representatives, both private and public, appeared before the board to plead their case in hopes of having the board reopen discussions.

In January, a modification to the eligibility criteria for LHSAA member schools was ratified by a vote of 195-174, which resulted in the removal of the phrase “same school system” from Article 1.13.4 of the organization’s handbook.

This alteration had the consequence of rendering students who transitioned from a middle school ineligible to participate as freshmen at a high school situated in a different attendance zone. Previously, these students were eligible under the old guidelines.

“Everyone gave good arguments today,” said LHSAA executive director Eddie Bonine. “Everyone came well prepared and argued why they should have certain feeder schools. The committee didn’t make a decision in haste but will, however, take this evening to network and talk about possible ramifications from this.”

St. Louis Catholic athletic director Pat Neck noted in the meeting that he has student-athletes that have been deemed ineligible since the modification due to the fact that the parochial school is placed outside of the designated “attendance zones” for Catholic middle schools within the diocese.

“As such, parents who choose to provide a Catholic education for their children are now being asked to make a choice between their education and full-eligibility,” said Neck.

Caddo Parish representative Victor Mainiero was one of several public school officials who spoke on how the modification shrinks the size of some varsity teams within the district due to some schools not having sub-varsity programs.

“We are concerned and addressing the unfair stipulations that hinder a student-athlete from participating in sports such as cross country, golf, and soccer as they are important to our schools because of the sheer numbers and not having a sub-varsity component, deeming our students ineligible to compete” said Mainiero.

“At the end of the day, that particular rule was voted on in January,” said Bonine. “We will see what decision this committee makes but they have tabled it until tomorrow in order to give them time and think about it.”

The committee is set to reconvene at 9 a.m. Wednesday morning to make a decision on the matter.

Committee members are also set to discuss topics including finalizing the agenda for the annual convention in January of 2024 as well as information for reclassification set to take place in November.