LHSAA grid playoffs in violation of constitution
In his address to the Roman Forum, fictitious Sen. Marcus Antonius, through his real-life alter ego, Bill Shakespeare, proclaimed that “the evil men do live long after them.”
That oft-quoted literary phrase can well apply to former LHSAA executive director Kenny Henderson, now deposed to somewhere in south Alabama.
As the result of his timidity in dealing with Louisiana high school principals, Henderson allowed a majority of public schools to approve holding separate football playoffs for what was termed “select” and “non-select” schools.
Now he’s gone, but the monotony of nine championship games continues to be his dubious legacy.
Henderson’s successor, Eddie Bonine, discovered through a thorough review of the agenda items for this year’s annual convention that the membership (and again, thanks, public school principals) violated the association's constitution and bylaws by voting to split.
The LHSAA has conducted such playoffs for three years now, costing the association in excess of $600,000 in rental fees to hold the nine championship games in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome over a two-week period.
Unlike his predecessor, Bonine understands that he is the chief steward of an association that has stood the test of time since 1920. And principals are discovering that Eddie Bonine has placed the well-being of the LHSAA above any individual principal’s self-centered desires to benefit his school at the expense of others.
Bonine held a press conference on Jan. 15 to report the violation of the association’s rules. He did so, saying he was uncomfortable and frustrated that the association lacked such transparency.
The discovery was made after the executive director assembled the agenda and handed it to the executive committee, LHSAA president Vic Bonnaffee, past president Todd Guice and the association’s parliamentarian. “I wanted trained eyes to review the items,” Bonine said.
“A constitution is a system by which a country, state, business or organization is run. And our constitution says that holding separate playoffs should not have been approved without the approval of the executive committee,” Bonine continued.
“Once aware of this discrepancy, I contacted our legal counsel.”
Bonine then employed a constitutional law rm (at a cost of $10,000, he said) to attest to the illegality of the rule. He received a 29-page
ruling that verified that the LHSAA had violated its own constitution and bylaws because the rule was passed by a oor vote in 2013 without the approval of the executive committee.
My question is how did the former LHSAA lawyer R. Bradley Lewis of Bogalusa and past parliamentarians miss this blatant violation? There apparently were a few drivers asleep at the wheel.
“The timing of this is horrible because it comes two weeks before the convention,” Bonine said. “But that seems to be a common theme.”
The 39-page business agenda reflects other items that Bonine said will have to be further scrutinized.
For instance, Norman Booker, principal of Many High School, authored a proposal that would mandate separate playoffs in the sport of baseball, effective immediately.
And the executive committee has a proposal to hold separate playoffs for schools in metropolitan and rural parts of the state. This proposal would enable both public and non-public schools in large cities to compete against each other but not against schools of comparable size located in rural areas.
Bonine told me in a November interview that he thought there would be a proposal that would give him the ability to declare a school in a lower classi cation to be “elite” if that school dominated a particular sport over a long term.
By doing so, he would have the power to place that school in a higher classification for the length of a reclassification period.
But, unfortunately, that proposal does not appear on the agenda. Would love to see Riverside Academy competing in Class 5A.