Last season the Lincoln Preparatory School football team was a Top 10 darkhorse in the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s Class 1A playoffs.
But if a move agreed on by the LHSAA executive committee means the Panthers will likely find themselves in the Division IV playoffs this upcoming season.
And that’s not an enticing future in Lincoln Prep football coach/athletics director Glen Hall’s mind.
“For me, I still think it comes down to showing you can beat the best, and the biggest, if you want to be the best,” Hall said. “I don’t think the kids are being considered in this thing. Now it feels like they’re saying because some kids come from other parishes to attend Lincoln Prep and maybe play for the Panthers, and now you’re saying if a school provides opportunities to those kids, then you should take away opportunities for the school itself.
By a vote of 16-5 on Thursday, the executive committee approved redefining what will be considered a select school based on LHSAA bylaw 4.4.4, which calls for the promotion of fair play among member schools.
Under that new definition, any LHSAA member determined to be a laboratory school, a magnet school or one with magnet elements, charter schools, or schools in parishes that allow open enrollment at all its public schools and tuition-based schools could fall under the select category this fall.
But the decision won’t go into effect until later this month. Before that, the association is giving any parishes that currently serve as open enrollment districts until June 22 to change said policy if they wish to remain on the non-select side.
The changes will take effect on July 1.
Hall doesn’t see the situation working in the Panthers’ favor at this point.
“I don’t think it’s fair to the kids to make them play in a lower class or division,” Hall said. “A lot of these kids are hoping to showcase themselves to maybe make it to the next level, and now that might be taken away from them and the school.
“That just doesn’t seem right. When you look at the big-name schools that could be forced to go select, then why stay in the LHSAA? I’m a team player and will do what I’m told without complaining. But when you look at the schools they put on the select list — the Edna Karrs, the Calvary (Baptists), the Manys. I don’t see it. I’m thinking about the kids,”
For now, Hall is simply focused on getting his Panthers prepared to make a deeper run in the upcoming season’s football playoffs while hoping the future ends up with more people seeing things the way he does.
“We’re a public charter school and are going to continue to function as such,” Hall said. “A lot of people have been complaining about the split. But this seems to totally divide things even more. What if all the schools that were split into select divisions just started their own association? What kind of situation would that create? I can’t help but wonder if they thought about that.
“I’ll abide by the rules even if I don’t agree with them. And I don’t agree with what these rules could become. That’s all we can say at this point. We don’t agree with what they’re trying to do. Nothing can be permanently changed until the principals vote in January. So in the end, the principals will still have the right to decide.”
If plans stay as voted on and passed on Thursday, the decision could push the number of select schools from 109 to 198, leaving 207 schools on the non-select side for the 2022-23 academic year.
The LHSAA executive committee also used bylaw 4.4.4 on Thursday to unanimously pass a motion to bring all select and non-select championships back to the same venues.
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