McMain football, soccer suspended for school year as part of LHSAA sanctions
It is unfortunate for many student-athletes and the ruling is firm. The rumors had been circulating for months.
McMain High School will not be allowed to field a football team in 2023 or a soccer team for the upcoming school year as well, based on a ruling handed down by the LHSAA.
McMain, which has undergone several coaching changes in football since the departure of a solid coach and person in Kevin Roussel, who served as head coach from 2008-2018 but was not renewed at the end of that year. Roussel is now a top assistant at Karr.
McMain has endured multiple infractions over the past couple of years resulting in the football program having to forfeit nine games total over that period of time. The soccer program had ineligible participants resulting in the severe sanction of that sport.
In addition to football and soccer not being allowed to compete, the entire athletic department has been sanctioned. While other sports will be allowed to compete, they will not be allowed to participate in the playoffs.
That includes the highly successful basketball program of Steven Kelly, which had several games canceled last season following a brawl which broke out at a game with McDonogh 35. McMain went on to reach the playoffs, winning a game and losing in the regional round. McMain won the 2021 Class 4A state championship, edging Carver and the Mustangs reached the 4A title game in 2022, falling to Carver.
Brandon Walters, a highly successful and highly respected coach at West St. John where he led the Rams to a state championship in 2017 and served six years as head football coach and 16 years total, is now the head football coach and athletic director at McMain. The infractions took place before Walters arrived at McMain.
The LHSAA does not publicize its disciplinary rulings or the reasons for the sanctions, leaving it up to schools if they choose to do so.
“It’s a terrible situation,” Walters said. “The most hurtful thing in the process is the outcome for the kids. We had one young man who transferred from outside of the parish, sat out last year, and was eligible to play this coming school year. Now, he cannot play. It is really a shame. Our basketball team had 12 seniors and could have made a real run at another state title. Now, some are transferring to other schools. Clearly, there were some kids who were ineligible and did not register properly who played previously, according to the LHSAA. I truly did not know the gravity of what I was getting involved in here.”.
Walters lamented the plight of the McMain basketball program.
“As for our basketball program, it is really a double-whammy as they were forced to miss two months last season and now they cannot compete for a state title,” Walters said. “I feel really bad for them.”
Walters was firm in stating the direction of the school’s athletic program.
“We will strive to do everything correctly moving forward,” Walters said. “Changes have already been made. Corrections have already been put in place. The rules are there and we will now make every diligent effort to stay on top of all of those. We are changing the culture and have to. It has been pretty rough getting student-athletes to stay here and to get others to come here. We had over 30 kids in the spring. After the parent meeting with the administration and the ruling coming down, some parents elected to move their kids to other schools.”
Those student-athletes are most likely not going to be eligible at new schools for the upcoming school year, pending special appeals and/or living in the new school district.
Walters is taking the high road moving forward.
“The soccer sanction is similar to football with regard to playing people illegally,” Walters said. “They (LHSAA) likely penalized the entire program due to violations in multiple sports. We will continue to prepare our young men for college camps and to prepare underclassmen to compete in 2024,” Walters said. “We are implementing our program, doing things differently. We will do everything possible to help them. We are in the business of educating and helping young men and women.”
The challenge and numbers issues are nothing new for Walters.
“I have been through this before,” Walters said. “By the end at West St. John, we had very few in terms of numbers. McMain is a 4A school with great potential with good kids and athletes but we have to basically start over and teaching how to win on the playing fields, in the classrooms and in life. That is what we are charged to do. This is one of the most challenging times of my career but I am ready for the challenge. Let’s do it!”
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…