by Hunter Bower, GeauxPreps.com Owner

BATON ROUGE, LA – In a pivotal decision that has been anticipated for months, Louisiana High School Athletic Association (LHSAA) member schools voted overwhelmingly in favor of retaining the current definition of what constitutes a “Select” school. This decision, made during a special-called meeting held at the Baton Rouge Marriott, marks a significant turning point in the ongoing debate surrounding the classification of schools within the LHSAA.

A total of 68% of the schools present at the meeting supported the existing “Select” school definition, which was initially adopted just a year ago by the LHSAA’s executive committee. The meeting and vote aimed to address a critical component of a lawsuit brought forward by nine member schools in late August. These schools had contested their placement in the select schools category based on the definition introduced by the executive committee last year.

This vote represents the latest milestone in the LHSAA’s journey over the past decade since the “Select/Non-Select” split was introduced in 2013, originally limited to football. The outcome of this vote ensures that the playoff structure implemented a year ago will remain intact.

Several principals, including those involved the lawsuit, spoke at the beginning of the meeting, either questioning the procedures of the meeting or by enticeing others to simply vote “No”.

In one of the most impactful statements on the day, Lincoln Prep principal Gordon Ford voiced his support of a “Yes” vote despite not always agreeing with the “Select” definition.

“As principals, we have abdicated our responsibilities … we have given that over to principals who sit on the executive committee,” Ford said. “A vote no means we go back to a structure that we know does not work. A vote yes keeps the structure we have in place. It’s not perfect, but its better than the way it was.”

The revised definition for select schools includes charter schools, schools with a magnet component, and open enrollment parishes whose students can attend any school irrespective of their residence. With this revised definition in place, the LHSAA’s executive committee structured the playoffs for the 2022-23 season, reclassifying schools into groups of four “Select” and four “Non-Select” divisions for football, boys’ and girls’ basketball, baseball, and softball. This restructuring led to a reduced number of championships and, in most cases, more competitive playoffs.

Eddie Bonine, the executive director of LHSAA, expressed his gratitude for the overwhelming turnout and support for the vote, saying, “I want to thank the over 380 school representatives that showed up here today, which is probably one of the biggest attendances for a vote during my tenure. That was very impressive. And then to garner a 68% vote, not only did we get a simple majority to pass but also received a 2/3 vote as well. The membership has spoken, and we will continue to move forward with what we have in place.”

However, Bonine also noted that the temporary injunction issued by Judge Will Jorden remains in place. He added, “The temporary injunction is still in place, but at this point (LHSAA) counsel will work with the other side’s counsel to submit paperwork and see if that particular ruling can be relieved.”

With this decision, the stage is set for the continuation of high school sports in Louisiana under the existing select school definition, while the possibility of further changes in the future looms large. Discussions regarding potential modifications to unify select and nonselect schools by sport are expected to be on the agenda for the LHSAA’s annual meeting in January, requiring only a majority vote to pass.