LHSAA to discuss select/non-select categorization

By T. Scott Boatright

It’s been a conundrum for Louisiana prep sports since 2013.

That’s when Louisiana High School Athletic Association schools were separated into select and non-select categories for the postseason in football since 2013.

In 2017, LHSAA basketball, baseball and softball were also separated into  select and non-select categories.

It’s become apparent over the years that the split is here to stay. But a question remains — is the split being done in the best, and maybe more importantly, fair fashion.

That will be discussed on Thursday during the LHSAA summer meetings.

Those meetings will begin today at the organization’s office in Baton Rouge.

Thursday’s LHSAA meetings agenda includes discussion of Bylaw 4.4.4, which begins with the sentence, “Make special rules to effect the spirit of fair play and good sportsmanship.”

The reasons for the discussion probably boil down to simple financial circumstances. 

Last December, the Class 1A – 5A and the Division IV football championships were played in the Ceasar’s Louisiana Superdome. 

The two biggest schools – Class 5A’s Ponchatoula and Zachary – received payouts a little more than $11,000 each for their title game efforts.

Meanwhile, the six teams playing in the Division I – III championship games received a combined total payout of $264,000.

The reason for the differences in payout is because of the locations where the games were played. Playing championships in the Superdome is more costly, meaning a lesser payout for the teams playing in those title games.

But the Division I and Division III championship games were played at Tulane’s Yulman Stadium, while the Division II title contest was played on Cajun Field at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. The smaller venues made for bigger payouts for participating teams.

Thursday’s meetings are expected to debate whether that should be considered fair.

Whatever the outcome, there isn’t likely to be a big effect on Lincoln Parish’s three LHSAA football teams.

Ruston High School is a public high school playing in Class 5A while Lincoln Preparatory School is considered a public school and therefore plays its postseason games in the Class 1-A through 5A non-select schools.

Cedar Creek plays in Division IV postseason games, but last year’s Division IV title game was also played in the Superdome as the first game of the championship weekend on Dec. 10.

During LHSAA spring meetings last April, executive director Eddie Bonine presented three possibilities moving forward.

The first  would leave things at least largely if not totally as it stands now, while the second would separate private schools even more than they currently are..

The third possibility offered by Bonine would move Type 2 charters into the select category, along with schools in parishes that have open-enrollment policies that allow students to attend any school of their choice.

Lincoln Prep athletics director/head football coach Glen Hall doesn’t anticipate Thursday’s meetings causing any major changes for Panthers’ athletics.

“We’re just a public charter school,” Hall said. “We offer some things that the other schools don’t offer, but we’re really just a public charter school. Sometimes people get that confused with the old Grambling Laboratory High School, which was truly a private or select school.

“But I don’t think this will affect us. We’re going to be who we are and where we are. We’ve established ourselves in the public, non-select school category and I don’t believe this will affect us in any way.”

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