Catholic principals could help defeat separation
Louisiana High School Athletic Association executive director Kenny Henderson reminded a group of select admission school principals and athletic directors who met in Baton Rouge on Jan. 18 that a proposal by Jesuit principal Mike Giambelluca that would have allowed schools to compete in a higher class failed by nine votes because nearly a dozen principals from local Catholic schools were not present at the annual convention to override a negative outcome in 2009.
Most of those principals were from predominantly all-girls’ Catholic schools. Some cited previous commitments they could not break.
Their presence and vote are vital to help defeat two proposals that would divide the LHSAA into separate playoffs for select and non-select schools.
The first proposal (No. 8), authored by former South Beauregard Principal Marlin Ramsey, calls for separate playoffs in the sports of football, baseball, basketball, cross country, soccer, softball, wrestling, volleyball and track and field. Select and non-select schools would still be permitted to compete in common districts.
The proposal, which would not go into effect until 2015-16, would divide teams into five championship divisions for non-select (traditional public schools) and two for select schools, which include Catholic and other faith-based schools, charter, magnet, laboratory and public schools that offer limited (at least 33 percent) dual curriculums from select admission students who do not live in their attendance zones.
Henderson said the proposal would die if it does not have enough votes to take it off the table for a vote. He said that would require a large number of principals from select admission schools to vote against it.
The second proposal (No. 18), authored by a group of six principals, would divide schools for championship honors in football only. Again, select schools would be placed in just two divisions while the public schools would enjoy five playoff classes. It would become effective at the start of the 2013-14 school year.
An inciting sweep
Some public school principals have complained that all five state football championships in 2012 were won by what they call select-admission schools, namely Archbishop Rummel in 5A, Edna Karr in 4A, Parkview Baptist in 3A, John Curtis in 2A and Ouachita Christian in 1A.
And although the history of the Prep Classic held annually in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome since 1981 shows that more public schools have won titles than their select peers, the majority of principals no longer want to compete against select schools, although they don’t mind sharing revenue with them during the regular season.
While football championships are still fairly even in four of the five playoff classes (Class 3A is the exception) figures presented by Brusly athletic director Tait Dupont last week show that over the last 10 to 12 years, select schools have won 68 percent of girls’ state championships and 61 percent of boys’ state titles. That number rises to 95 percent in volleyball, Dupont pointed out.
Safety issues a concern
But safety questions were raised about placing so many select schools into just two playoff classes. The proposal would place Class 3A, 4A and 5A schools into one division and Classes 2A and 1A in a lower playoff division.
The top division for football
would have schools with enrollments that approach 2,000 students competing against schools with, in some cases, fewer than 500 students. And half or fewer of the enrollment numbers are male students.
Injuries are a great concern to the LHSAA office. They are to parents as well.
Henderson said he expects about 270-290 of the 389 LHSAA member principals to be present for the vote on Friday.
He stressed the importance of principals who are against these proposals to show up in force and to encourage as many public school principals as they know to vote against the proposals. He said he will not take a stand for or against any proposal on Friday.
It will be paramount for all principals from local Catholic and private schools to vote. But two questions arise:
Who will vote for St. Augustine, which does not have a principal at this time? And will John Curtis, which is habitually absent, be in attendance?
In all probability there will be a roll call vote to identify the yeas and nays.