If you have not been following the drama that is the Louisiana High School Athletic Association, I’ve covered it here – there was a vote to expand the controversial public/private playoff split, and it passed. There is a lot of discontent among the LHSAA’s membership (those who are among the “select” school category), and it’s all boiling up to the surface.
So, with all this discontent going on, the LHSAA director, Eddie Bonine, sent a State of the State-type letter to the National Federation of State High School Associations on the status of the LHSAA. And he called it a “proverbial dumpster fire.”
Bonine was pessimistic on the state of the organization heading into the 100th anniversary of the LHSAA, which will take place in 2019.
“Unfortunately, the 100th Anniversary of this once proud organization is just three years away, and it is my hope we can limp into the celebration year without being on life support.
“Right now, it does not look positive. Simply put…we are a proverbial dumpster fire!”
Bonine included an image of a burning dumpster in the email.
Well, that little bit wasn’t supposed to go public. The Daily Advertiser (linked above) got a hold of it and the media had a bit of a field day with it. People in Louisiana (especially in south Louisiana) love them some high school athletics and the soap operas surrounding them. Bonine, however, appears to be standing by his comments, though he is trying to make it sound nowhere near as bad as it did.
“The phrase was used as it pertained to our association ‘not being on solid ground as it pertains to finances, perception and good standing with our membership,’” Bonine said. “The use of the term ‘dumpster fire’ was meant for my constituents to make light of multiple serious situations facing our association as well as other state associations across the country. My commitment to the state of Louisiana and our student-athletes will always be in the forefront of all that I do. My hope is that no additional meaning will be assigned to my comments.”
The LHSAA’s problems won’t go away anytime soon, and in fact Bonine said in his original letter that we should expect that playoff split to extend to all sports, not just the major ones (as was passed this year). That many private schools and public schools who voted against the split want to leave and create a rival athletic association does not bode well for the organization.
The festering wounds of the LHSAA need some pretty immediate treatment – my recommendation has been and will continue to be the scrapping of the recruitment rule and the opening up of school choice to allow student-athletes to go where they please. Violation of the recruitment rule is virtually impossible to prove, and it becomes less of a problem if students are allowed to go where they want for whatever reason they want.
Note: This writer is an assistant coach at a public school that is considered a “select” school under the current definition, and is none too happy about it, either.