BATON ROUGE – It seemed as though cooler heads prevailed Thursday afternoon in what was a lengthy but productive day of individual classification meetings dominated by discussion from member school principals on whether to keep the restructured playoff system put in place in late-2022.
With all agenda items up for consideration Friday morning during the convention’s general business session, member principals received the opportunity to either ratify or deny measures passed under Article 4.4.4. while also considering other proposals submitted for discussion.
As both sides seemed destined to hit head-on regarding the benefits or damage of allowing the ratification of the current playoff system to remain or voting it down, a discussion between LHSAA President David Federico and a group of principals took place before the individual breakout sessions.
“Basically, their concern was the way that the current playoff structure was put together,” said Federico. “They didn’t really have a problem of what was done but how it was done. It was an extremely productive meeting. The principals brought up some great points.”
A vote during its winter meetings saw the executive committee provide the aforementioned sports with a complete overhaul of the playoff formats highlighted by new divisions with a clean, equal representation determined by enrollment in both Select and Non-Select brackets.
Federico relayed in the meeting that the association would be willing to meet during a summer session, most likely in June, to discussed all items if tabled as well as revisions to the Select and Non-Select definition should a quorum be present.
“We told them that we were willing to work with them on the definition of Select and Non-Select that is workable to everybody,” said Federico.
Following that discussion, principals broke out into classification meetings where the subject of the current playoff structure was discussed in length. It seemed as though a consensus to table the proposals, rather than creating chaos detrimental to the state’s student-athletes, regarding the current playoff structures would be the best choice until both sides could mutually agree on how to proceed further.
“I was encouraged coming into today and tomorrow,” said LHSAA executive director Eddie Bonine. “I always do when we get into the convention and I have mentioned many times that the process that we have here is one that a number of state associations can’t believe we are able to pull off to get all principals, depending upon the topic, in one room.
Bonine noted that each year’s general session can churn out surprises at every corner and that this year is no different.
“This my eighth convention as executive director and items that I thought would pass passed, items that I thought would fail failed,” said Bonine. “Items that I thought would pass failed and those I thought would fail passed. You just never know which is why we have the process and we take whatever we get and do our best to work with.”
A vote to table or ratify the discussion items would keep the current playoff structure in place for all split sports while a failure to ratify would revert all to the playoff system used in year’s past.
To say the least, Friday’s vote could be the most important in the 100-plus year of the association.
• Prior to the breakout sessions, the association held its annual principals luncheon where four deserving individuals were honored for outstanding service to the LHSAA:
Golden Torch Award: Kim Mulkey, LSU women’s basketball head coach; Super Sport Award: Ruthie Dugal, volleyball official; Distinguished Service Award: Karen Fairchild, former LHSAA staff member; Prep Journalism Award: Hunter Bower, GeauxPreps.com
• Executive committee members were chosen in Thursday’s classification meetings with four principals earning bids for re-election as Hackberry’s Jimmy Witherwax retained in Class C, Kristine Roundtree kept her seat in Class B, Sharon Clark was re-elected in Class 3A and Matt Mitchell retained in Class 4A.
In Class 1A, Vermilion Catholic’s Stella Arabie was elected to represented Districts 5-8 while Red River’s Norman Picou was named to the Class 2A spot for Districts 1-6. Natchitoches Central’s Micah Coleman took over Districts 1-4 in Class 5A.
Newly elected members begin their terms starting with the April executive committee meetings.