There’s still plenty to mull over when it comes to the LHSAA’s executive committee re-vamping the term ‘select’ school, and LHSAA executive director Eddie Bonine realizes the fallout will be multi-layered. He also said it was done not with just one group of schools in mind.
“I want everybody to know that for this year, we’re going to try to add back some normality, have brackets that are respectable, and this all could just blow up at the January convention,” Bonine said during a Zoom call with media members on Tuesday. “At the end of the day, OK. But we did what we felt was best for the entire association – all students. It’s got nothing to do with select/non-select.”
The LHSAA sent a list out with a breakdown of select and non-select schools Monday evening based on the new definition of select schools after the committee elected to include magnet schools, schools with magnet components, lab schools, charter schools, tuition-based schools and parishes that allow open enrollment in public schools as select schools during its spring meeting last week.
Bonine said the original list sent by the LHSAA Monday evening had 198 select schools (48 percent) and 207 non-select (52 percent). At the time of Tuesday’s Zoom meeting, he said 52.1 percent were select and 47.9 percent non-select. He said those numbers will continue to change because schools have until June 21 to file appeals.
Once the lists are finalized, Bonine said the LHSAA staff will make recommendations to the executive committee regarding playoff brackets.
That’s where some changes are likely to take place, with the size of brackets, specifically football, not being approved until the LHSAA’s executive committee meeting in late August or early September.
“Many of you know there’s certain sports you don’t need, I don’t care who you are, you don’t need somebody who hadn’t won a game or won three games and lost 28 to be on a bracket,” Bonine said. “They don’t deserve to be there.”
“We have 32-team brackets that shouldn’t be there,” he continued. “We have 24-team brackets that shouldn’t be there. We have 16-team brackets that shouldn’t be there. You all know it. You’ve all lived it. We’re done with that. We’ve taken it on the chin. We’ve done it, but it’s not fair to membership, and it’s not fair to those schools that are actually legitimately on a bracket having to play somebody or they get (a) double bye right to the semifinal game and not play anybody. Or in some cases on the select side, you play the same person four or five times during the year and then travel 160 miles to play them again.”
The LHSAA’s list did not include divisions for select schools, something that will also be ironed out. LHSAA assistant executive director Michael Federico noted there are currently four football divisions and five for other select sports.
“Depending on the number of schools, we would apply that same approach and then equally distribute those amongst those respective divisions,” Federico said.
Federico said he and Louisiana High School Coaches Association director Eric Held have looked at some preliminary numbers when it comes to the playoff brackets.
“Currently, we see around 48 teams make the playoffs in the respective sports, and we need to take a look once we see how many schools end up on either side,” Federico said. “We need to take a look and see how many teams can or should be making the playoffs. If it’s 48, then we have to have the conversation of is it 32 (in non-select), 16 (in select), 24-24? It really just depends on the number of schools in those respective classes of divisions. We don’t have that now just because it’s so fluid.”
Federico said another consideration is the number of available officials available in all sports to determine how many games can be staffed.
“By doing so … it may look like a different bracket,” Bonine added.
Bonine said he made a recommendation that power rankings be used to seed the playoff bracket and a team’s winning percentage be used to make the playoff bracket.
“Win half your games to get on it,” he said. “Any other entity – collegiate, high school – has a criterion of how many games you’ve got to (win) to get into a bowl game or to get into postseason. That was not implemented at this particular juncture, but I truly believe that now with a better balance of schools in both (select and non-select) will facilitate that part of it, meaning the brackets, which we then will eventually address.”
He also brought up the costs for some schools in hosting playoff games, and he’s hoping changes to the playoff brackets will remedy some of those situations.
Bonine stressed the select/non-select designation for schools doesn’t have an impact on the regular season schedule or the current basic districts already in place.
The biggest change on that front for schools in Livingston Parish has Denham Springs, Live Oak and Walker combining with East Ascension, St. Amant and Dutchtown to form District 5-5A.
Also, Doyle moves up to Class 3A to form District 6-3A with Collegiate Baton Rouge, Glen Oaks, Madison Prep, Mentorship Academy, Parkview Baptist, Port Allen and University Lab.
The executive committee also voted unanimously to host state championship events – select and non-select – at the same venues. Bonine noted there’s a national, local and statewide shortage of officials, and he’s hoping keeping singular venues will help that issue.
“When we start stacking different venues in same sport across the state, we can’t cover it, and when we do send individuals, sometimes they’re not the quality that you want, and we don’t want them to have to choose,” Bonine said.
Bonine also cleared the air regarding going back to hosting championship events at one venue.
“I have had more than one person take a shot at me and take a shot at this association that this move that we just made was because we were jealous of the money the private schools made,” Bonine said. “Furthest from the truth, No. 1. No. 2, yeah, they made some money in football. As I sit here today, softball officials and baseball officials still haven’t been paid on the select side. They have been paid on non-select, which is what we oversee.”
“This is about trying to make things equitable, and when it effects the entire association, the executive committee represents all the schools, even though some don’t think so,” Bonine continued. “I’ve got to let you understand that those individuals who sit on my committee were elected and/or selected … to represent those schools in which they represent. I truly believe the committee that’s in place right now make decisions on the best interests of the entire association, not just 3A, 4A, 5A, 1A, 2A, B or C or whom they represent, but they do it in general even though it may affect their school with the decision that they’re making, and that has happened.”