Call for a single playoff system

The message from members of the Louisiana High School Basketball Coaches Association is loud and clear.

Its coaches want their principals, who are from Louisiana High School Athletic Association schools, to abandon their state championship tournament format of hosting separate playoffs for public and non-public schools and to compete in a unified playoff format.

The LHSAA executive committee received the proposal by the coaches to hold “true” state championship tournaments that would again pit so-called Non-select (public schools) with Select (other schools) into a common tournament based on the seven classifications of teams.

A single state championship tournament had been the tradition since the LHSAA was formed 97 years ago until public school principals voted to hold separate playoffs in 2013.

This controversial and unpopular move ended the practice of naming a true state champion (although the LHSAA has engraved the words “state champion” on each of its seven first-place trophies) and created pseudo titles, when, in fact, the championships are either “Division” (non-public schools) or “Class” (public schools) championships.

Coaches want to see their proposal on the agenda when the LHSAA holds its annual meeting in January 2018.

To pull this off, the coaches need to convince a large majority of principals to vote favorably on this item.

The LHSAA rules currently require a two-thirds vote of the attending principals to pass any new proposal. And it would be quite a coup to get that vote because passage of a single playoff for one sport would be an admission that the vote to hold separate playoffs was wrong in the first place.

But this is what the roundball coaches want, and principals who voted against this four years ago should wipe the egg off their faces and give their coaches the support they deserve.

It may lead to better things in subsequent years.

Why is a forfeit a win?

The LHSAA recently found that Southern Lab was in such gross violations of eligibility rules, it stripped the Baton Rouge school of the Division IV championships it won in 2015 and 2016, and the runner-up trophy in 2014.

The head coach, former LSU quarterback Marcus Randall, was fired for numerous  recruiting practices, and the school has been banned from participating in the 2017 and 2018 playoffs.

My questions are: Do 35 or so wins come off Randall’s personal record, and are the forfeited victories added to those of the coaches who lost to Lab?

This question of vacating wins  has come up before, and no one, but I, wants to answer it.

In 1972, Otis Washington coached St. Augustine to an undefeated season. But, through no fault of his own, one athlete had repeated a junior high school grade. The LHSAA found out and stripped St. Aug of eight wins.

Those losses went on Washington’s coaching record and caused this innocent coach to have to wait three decades to be inducted into the state Hall of Fame.

Last year, the LHSAA stripped John Curtis Christian School of one state championship, one runner-up trophy and more than 20 wins when it discovered offensive lineman Willie Allen (an LSU recruit who has transferred to a junior college) was living with an assistant coach as a “convenience” to the athlete.

According to published articles relating to that issue, the school was stripped of “20-plus” wins over that period of time.

But the wins have not come off the official record of head coach J.T. Curtis, whose 548 wins entering the 2017 season happen to lead the nation.

How many is “20-plus” wins and against which opponents? I’ve asked the school’s media liaison that question several times and was told, “We’re checking.”

In the meantime, coaches who deserve one or two victories from those forfeits may never see them because that check may never be completed.

Ron Brocato can be reached at rbrocato@clarionherald.org.

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