by Hunter Bower // GeauxPreps.com Owner
Another year. Another monumental vote.
LHSAA member school representatives are set to convene for the association’s annual convention Jan. 25-27 at the Crowne Plaza in Baton Rouge to determine the future postseason landscape of high school sports in Louisiana and their playoff structures.
GeauxPreps.com will be in attendance and will provide coverage of Friday’s meeting with voting set to begin around 9:30 a.m.
Below is a summary of how the organization arrived at this juncture and what could be expected moving forward.
HOW DID WE GET HERE?
In 2013 and 2016, the principals voted to split the sports of football, baseball, basketball and softball, citing “unfair and equitable” practices involving private schools as reasoning to break away from the traditional playoff brackets. Instead, separate brackets were created for the newly defined Non-Select, traditional public schools as well as for the Select, non-traditional schools that used certain academic criteria to determine enrollment.
With the majority of member principles united behind the notion that the association remains split, the LHSAA and its executive committee took action in its summer meetings in hopes of restoring integrity to its postseason brackets.
The committee, under Article 4.4.4 of the LHSAA constitution, which allows making changes to promote fair play, voted last September to restructure playoff fields for the sports of baseball, basketball, football and softball, whereas bloated brackets were reduced while member schools were divided equally by enrollment into Non-Select and Select divisions.
The decision to modify its postseason brackets occurred on the heels of multiple efforts made by the executive committee as well as various member schools throughout the last 10 years to unite the association, all of which were met with resistance with a motion to table, withdraw or by failing to reach a majority vote.
In addition to the new playoff look for the 2022-23 season, the executive committee approved a clearer definition of how a school is designated regarding its educational enrollment procedures. With the move, the number of Non-Select and Select schools saw a drastic shift with a nearly even split.
WHAT TO EXPECT ON FRIDAY?
The membership will decide whether to embrace a refresh to multiple split postseason brackets or revert to a controversial playoff system that has been scrutinized since its initial inception.
Beginning around 9:30 a.m., principals will gather together and sift through and vote on various amendments to the LHSAA constitution and by-laws, including action items approved under Article 4.4.4., each at a time.
The ratification of the LHSAA executive committee’s decision to restructure the postseason formats for baseball, boys and girls basketball, football and softball, under Article 4.4.4., are among a few items of interest on the table. A vote in favor would allow teams to continue to compete in more competitive, less-bloated brackets across the board while a vote against reverts all playoff structures to their original formats used since 2013.
Actions taken under Article 4.4.4. must be ratified by a simple majority vote of the member schools.
WHAT IS AT STAKE?
Under the new playoff format, football saw significant improvements as brackets were reduced from nine to eight while only six participants in this year’s Prep Classic made consecutive appearances. In total, five participants either made their first appearance in the finals in at least a decade or for the first time ever. St. Charles was the only team to repeat as champion.
If the measure to permanently revamp the split sports playoff structures fails in a majority vote, the association would immediately revert back to the original system used before the 2022-23 school year. Nine brackets would again be utilized in football while boys and girls basketball, baseball and softball would increase from nine to 12.
However, schools that were determined to be a Select school following the redefining of the term by the executive committee will remain under that designation according to the LHSAA parliamentarian.
• Other items of note to be considered by the membership include a proposal to limit schools applying for membership to be placed on probation until the next reclassification year instead of a one-year limit to help educate those wishing to join on LHSAA rules and regulations.
• Another proposal up for consideration could see the highest-seeded softball team host the quarterfinal round rather than having to travel if a school has not hit the road more times than the lower-seeded opponent.
• In basketball, a proposal to remove the “1 point” awarded to district champions at the end of the regular season will be up for a vote with coaches from around the state explaining that the idea is illogical under the revamped playoff format.