By ROBIN FAMBROUGH / The Advocate
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- To some, the Louisiana High School Athletic Association is a complicated puzzle made up of many pieces based on the number of schools and sports.
Three proposed changes to the LHSAA's bylaws could alter those pieces dramatically, including split championship events. The LHSAA's executive committee met Tuesday to discuss more than 70 pages of agenda items for its annual January convention.
One proposal would divide the association for playoffs in all sports based on whether schools have select or non-select enrollment.
Another would allow schools to play up by one classification. A third, this one by executive director Kenny Henderson, would classify football schools in five divisions and divide schools into six classes for other sports.
"I've always said from the word go that football does not need to dictate how we classify and yet all of these years it has," Henderson said. "We've done this (proposal) for two or three years, and we come back and adjust it. This is just the latest adjustment."
The proposal that would bring the biggest change came from past LHSAA President Marlin Ramsey of South Beauregard high. Ramsey's proposal would divide all LHSAA schools into four classes. Each class would consist of about 100 schools.
"Mr. (Marlin) Ramsey's proposal is comprehensive," Henderson said. "We're waiting to see what reaction we get regarding that and the other proposals."
Under Ramsey's proposal, schools would play together in district and split up into divisions once the playoffs begin. There would be four brackets for non-select schools and two for select schools.
Ramsey defines select schools as private schools, recovery district schools, dual curriculum schools, charter schools, magnet schools, specialty schools and laboratory schools. Non-select schools are traditional public schools.
"This is something I felt was needed, and I didn't think it should come from the executive committee," Ramsey said. "I feel like we have a growing number of schools in this state that are able to selectively choose their students who come to their school. It's not just the private schools. They have an advantage academically as well as athletically."
Twice before - in 1998 and 2004 - the LHSAA voted to reject attempts to split into divisions for private and public schools.
Ramsey admitted the proposal grew out of frustration from being in Class 2A with two football powers, John Curtis and Evangel, who have been forced to play in 2A by an LHSAA bylaw that requires schools to play in enrollment-based classes. Curtis and Evangel play this week in the semi-finals and have a combined playoff record of 57-0 against other schools since moving to the enrollment-based rule.
Ramsey's proposal detailed how football, basketball, baseball, softball and track and field playoffs would change. Ramsey told the executive committee he plans to compile a list showing which schools would fall in the select and non-select categories.
Henderson's revamped proposal would classify football schools in five divisions, and then would divide schools in six classes for other sports. The key change would come for non-football schools now in Classes B-C that would be placed in a classification with football schools. Those schools would be allowed to start basketball two weeks earlier and allowed two extra games and two tournaments or three extra games and one tournament.
Another proposal by Jesuit-New Orleans Principal Michael Giambelluca and Zachary Principal Wes Watts would allow schools to play up by one classification. The "playing up" proposal has also failed to get enough support to pass in previous attempts.
Henderson's football-by-divisions plan has also been presented before and has been retooled.
A three-step sportsmanship proposal will be on the agenda, setting guidelines for student ejections and those involved in fights.
Henderson said that proposal will be tweaked to delete fines for schools before it is presented to the membership.
--Parkview Baptist's Melanie Ezell submitted a proposal that would require the LHSAA to share profits from its regional semifinal and combined finals basketball tournaments with the participating schools.
Currently, schools get $900 per game and $5 per mile one way. Henderson said the LHSAA uses its profits from championship events to fund its operation with the football and basketball championships pro-viding the majority of the money. He said if this proposal passes the LHSAA would likely have to cut back on events or increase membership dues.
--Denham Springs Principal Kelly Jones submitted a proposal that would allow baseball players to do conditioning work using a baseball after school for two weeks before the start of practice.
Players would be limited to warm-up and long toss. Pitching and infield-outfield drills would be prohibited.