by Hunter Bower // GeauxPreps.com Owner
After nine years, multiple failed proposals, and endless debate amongst coaches, principals, media, parents as well as the coffee shop old-timers, it is apparent that the split amongst Louisiana High School Athletic Association (LHSAA) public and private member schools is here to stay.
So, what now?
The association will have to turn its focus from unification to reformation.
Since the initial split occurred in 2013, the integrity of the postseason has been put into question many times. The original intent given as the reason for the split was not to allow more teams in the playoffs but to give championship-level programs a legitimate opportunity to be recognized as a champion.
A new vision must be created in regards to how teams become eligible for postseason play amongst the five sports of football, boys basketball, girls basketball, baseball and softball.
For example, the sport of football recognizes the top-32 Non-Select, or public school, teams based on power ratings in Class 5A through Class 2A. In Class 1A, the top 24 squads are placed into the postseason bracket.
Under the current format, a total of 36 teams with losing records advanced to the 2021 football playoffs.
In an effort to reduce the number of losing schools from becoming playoff eligible, the 32-seed playoff field in the Class 5A through 2A could be downsized to 24 teams while Class 1A is shrunk down to just 16 squads.
Had the above sample plan been in place for the 2021 season, only 9 losing teams would have advanced into the playoff field, thus eliminating the “black-eye” of multiple teams with losing records becoming playoff eligible.
When it comes to reforming the private school divisions, one suggestion would be to take all members classified as Select and divide them amongst four divisions according to their enrollment numbers.
|Division I||Division II|
|Catholic (BR)||2180||St. Michael||599|
|Brother Martin||1773||E.D. White||594|
|St. Paul’s||1444||University Lab||476|
|Liberty||1105||De La Salle||459|
|St. Thomas More||928||John Curtis||373|
|St. Augustine||909||St. Charles||359|
|Holy Cross||907||Northlake Christian||358|
|Teurlings Catholic||781||Thomas Jefferson||354|
|Lusher Charter||734||Lafayette Christian||344|
|Vandebilt Catholic||601||Notre Dame||338|
|Division III||Division IV|
|Catholic (NI)||314||Opelousas Catholic||173|
|Pope John Paul II||303||Southern Lab||170|
|St. Thomas Aquinas||297||Ascension Catholic||167|
|Ascension Episcopal||261||Central Private||149|
|Country Day||240||Central Catholic||147|
|Ascension Christian||219||St. John||128|
|Ouachita Christian||214||Highland Baptist||125|
|Catholic (PC)||203||St. Mary’s||120|
|St. Martin’s||198||Hamilton Christian||96|
|Vermilion Catholic||194||River Oaks||96|
A plan similar to the one above would increase the number of playoff-eligible teams up to around 17-18 squads in each division with the possibility of even more if the four divisions were condensed to three.
The plan would give the Select schools a chance to play more than one or two contests before the state championships thus increasing chances of stronger postseason gate and concession sales.
Last school year, GeauxPreps.com proposed a unique way to bring the schools back together while keeping public and private schools split.
The “Playoff Reunification Plan” suggested bringing all schools back together for the postseason while also keeping the non-select and select divisions. An undisputed champion would be crowned in each class following a division championship on each side that includes a field of 16 teams representing the non-select schools and another division consisting of 16 representatives from the select side.
To read more about the plan, click here: IT’S TIME TO BRING THE LHSAA BACK TOGETHER: THE PLAYOFF UNIFICATION PLAN
A perfect answer may not always be available in the midst of a broken situation.
With that said, let us not forget that at the end of the day, it’s all about the student-athlete and what is best for his or her well-being.