Select schools vote overwhelmingly to form separate organization within LHSAA

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STA at Newman football 2017
(Photo: Stephen Lew)

Select schools in Louisiana voted 66-1 Monday in Lafayette to ratify a constitution and form an organization to act on their behalf, primarily as it relates to state championships in football, basketball, baseball and softball.

The Louisiana Select Association, or LSA, will officially still operate under the auspices of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association and member schools must still pay LHSAA dues.

Catholic High athletic director J.P. Kelly has been chosen as the CEO of the organization, and a 10-member executive committee was chosen – one member from each of the five divisions of select schools, and one member from each of the five equally-divided regions of select members.

Kelly felt Monday was a very good day for select schools in Louisiana.

“There was a lot of energy today to do a lot to help student-athletes,” Kelly said. “In February, the LHSAA sent an e-mail telling us we were in charge of our championships. Things started to click then.

“We realized that this was important and we had to make it special for our student-athletes. Today was the culmination of that. We have ratified the constitution. Now, we have a chance to make our championships the very best we can possibly be.”

Kelly was particularly pleased with the near-unanimous support for the LSA.

“The support for this year was overwhelming,” Kelly said. “The biggest momentum from today was that people wanted the organization and people clearly want to work together to get great venues and to get unbelievable championships. Many different colleges and venues around the state want our business. That is clear. We have a great opportunity.”

Brother Martin’s Ryan Gallagher, Country Day’s Mike McGuire and Mount Carmel’s April Hagadone are the New Orleans-area reps on the executive committee, which will serve in 2019-20 on an interim basis.

“It is a good day,” Gallagher said. “I was really excited about the result from today. It’s the first time we’ve come together as a unified voice and we are doing so in order to give our student-athletes the very best. It is an awesome thing that we were able to do that.

“I thought about all the ways it might get messy but it was not. Everyone wants what is best for their school and looking out for the best for all school members and that is what it is all about.”

Gallagher expressed confidence that a football championship venue is close to being imminent.

“We hope to have something done with regard to a venue for football by the end of August,” Gallagher said. “We want to know and announce that by the time we are involved in jamborees. We have some very good proposals already and I feel very good that we can get that done. I really think this is a big step toward bringing everyone back together in this state.”

The executive committee’s tasks will include securing venues, organizing and operating state championship events for select schools in football, boys and girls basketball, baseball and softball.

By virtue of waiving the right to host championship games on campus, championship venues for the LSA can be approved with a simple majority vote.

“As long as all of the divisions forego their right to host it, you can contract it without a unanimous vote of the membership,” Kelly said.

Earlier this year, LHSAA members approved a proposal to allow select schools to conduct their own championships. If 12 championships are held at the same site – like basketball, baseball and softball have been for the last three years – there are as many as 20 games played during the school day over the course of a week-long championship.

“That was a big part of the discussion – trying to alleviate the stress on the academic side,” said Country Day football coach Joe Chango, who attended the meeting with McGuire.

Among the neutral sites already expressing interest in hosting championships are the University of Louisiana at Lafayette for many events and the Alario Center for some part of the basketball championships. Select schools have also had conversations with the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Tulane and Southeastern Louisiana about its football championships.

What’s next?

“The next action step for the board is to communicate with everyone, including schools who could not attend today,” Kelly said. “We have to make sure that those schools communicate their waiver. We have to reach out to them and explain it to them so we can move forward. We need to have everyone on board to finalize venues and formalize subcommittees.”

Will Monday’s action will help end the split of select and non-select schools in Louisiana, which has been in place in 2013?

“I definitely think this is the first big step at the LHSAA coming back together as one,” Kelly said. “The LHSAA is charged with putting that proposal out again in January and we will do anything to help it happen.

“We want to all play together. That is the ultimate goal and where so many people want to be. I really think today’s development will help.”

Here is the executive committee of the LSA elected today and the roles in which they will serve or committees they will chair:

J.P. Kelly—CEO—Catholic High (Baton Rouge)
Dr. Stella Arabie—Deputy CEO—Catholic (New Iberia)
Andrew Yepson—Secretary—Cedar Creek
Tim Sensley—Treasurer—Highland Baptist
John LeBlanc—Finance—Loyola Prep
Ryan Gallagher—Marketing/Media—Brother Martin
Kenny Henderson—Proposal—The Brighton School
Pat Neck—Football—St. Louis Catholic
Mike McGuire—Basketball—Country Day
Mike Boyer—Baseball—Teurlings Catholic
April Hagadone—Softball—Mount Carmel Academy

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