LHSAA’s select, non-select changes remain fluid

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When the Louisiana High School Athletic Association released its new breakdown of select and non-select schools Monday, there was a slight majority on the non-select side.

But like many of the games the association governs, there had already been a lead change as of Tuesday morning.

“That list is going to change,” Bonine said Tuesday in a Zoom call with statewide media. “We’re not taking that list to the bank just yet. From the time we sent that list out yesterday, the majority has already flipped.”

As of now, 52.1 percent of the 405 member schools are listed as select.

The LHSAA executive committee voted last week to expand the scope of the definition of select schools to include public schools who use open enrollment or are laboratory, charter or magnet-based.

“The original split was all about an unequal playing field,” LHSAA executive committee president David Federico of Ecole Classique said. “All we’ve done is gotten together and level the playing field about open enrollment. Of the (principals) in the room, we have only five select schools. The vote was 16-5 (in favor of Option 2, the revised definition.)”

Bonine reiterated that last week’s vote “does not affect classification. This does not affect districting. This only affects the postseason.”

He added that the LHSAA staff will review the breakdown once the 15-day appeals process is completed and lay out potential brackets for championships in football, boys and girls basketball, baseball and softball – the five sports impacted by the select/non-select split.

Could these changes result in a reduction of the nine championships in football and 12 in other sports? “Not at the moment,” Bonine said. “We’re going to get through this piece first. We’re going to use the format we have at this particular point.”

However, much like what has happened to bracket divisions on the select side – for example, Division II has been a combination of Class 4A and 3A select schools – it is possible, depending on numbers, that classifications could be combined for the postseason.

“We’ve talked about it,” Bonine said. “That’s on the table to make combinations of classes if necessary.”

The executive committee, also using the scope of the association’s Bylaw 4.4.4, also decided last week to bring all championship events back to one site, instead of select events being held at separate venues.

“The vote to bring the venues back together was unanimous,” Federico said. “I can’t be in two places at one time. Staff can’t be in two places at one time.

Bonine made three points in favor of uniting venues – a lack of officials with competitions going on simultaneously, issues with select venues that the LHSAA had to “referee,” and making the operation of events equitable.

While some have tied the move to additional revenue generated in select football championship games, particularly for last December’s Division I game between Jesuit and Catholic High at Tulane’s Yulman Stadium, Bonine said it’s not that simple. As of Tuesday, for instance, officials for the select baseball and softball championship events had not yet been paid.

One piece Bonine reiterated is that the definition of select is not a bylaw, but rather an item in the glossary, which is not subject to a vote of the membership.

“Can the membership come back in January and change this? Maybe they have another option? The definitions don’t need approval of the membership,” Bonine said. “The 30-plus members we have on our (executive) committee … voted for Option 2. As we sit here today, this is in place for 2022-23.”

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Lenny Vangilder

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Lenny was involved in college athletics starting in the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…

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