Proposal would allow Selects to run own playoffs

 A series of controversial proposals that will appear on the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s 52-page agenda for the Jan. 23-25 annual convention hit the fan on Monday.

Authored by Teurlings Catholic’s crusading principal Michael Boyer, Select schools would determine their playoff formats in the sports of football, basketball and baseball separate and apart from the common playoff system that governs non-select schools.

Passage of this proposal is contingent upon principals from Select (non-public schools) approving the proposals. 

The general membership recently voted favorably to allow only schools that are affected by a rule that pertains just to them the power to vote for or against it.

I believe everyone knew this was coming. The current playoff system that separates Select from Non-select schools heavily favors public schools, which make up the majority of LHSAA members.

While competing in five classes, these Non-select schools were easily able to fill 32-team playoff brackets, while the Select schools had hardly enough entries to fill even a smaller 16-team bracket.

Boyer’s plan eliminates the bye week by beginning the playoffs a week earlier. It places the responsibility of conducting the playoffs in the hands of the teams and not the LHSAA.

Using football as an example, the basic championship format would be as follows:

Beginning with the 2019 season, the home team (or higher seed) may use its regularly used home field as the championship site in all four divisions. But if the home team chooses to use another stadium other than its home field, the opposing school would have to agree to the change.

The competing schools would also agree on ticket prices and time of kickoff.

Accounting headaches?

Boyer’s proposed financial arrangement for a game played on the home team’s field mandates that the schools be required to distribute and sell numbered tickets for the championship game. Both schools will have the right to be directly involved in the collection and accounting for the selling of all tickets. And a school would not be allowed to use season tickets as admission to the championship game.

With the exception of acquiring contest officials, which would still be the responsibility of the LHSAA’s director of officials, the home team would furnish the stadium, ticket sellers, gate-keepers, security, janitors, advertising, printed tickets and other items incidental to the game, none of which can be charged against gate receipts. But the home team would receive 100 percent of concessions and souvenir program sales.

Gross ticket receipts, including pregame sales, would be divided by the competing schools. Teams would share 50-50 after the following deductions: 10 percent of the gross receipts, including pregame sales would be paid to the LHSAA before paying for contest officials’ travels and fees and visiting team’s travel.

If gate receipts did not cover these expenses, the visiting team would receive the balance of the receipts after payments to the LHSAA and officials.

Benefits to the LHSAA

By losing four division championship games that would normally be played in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the LHSAA does lose some significant benefits, but Boyer points out it also would save money in less rental fees charged by SMG, which manages the Dome, and would require less staffing necessary to work the games.

Boyer contends that member schools on the non-select side would realize more revenue sharing because of these  lessened costs.

The non-select schools would play five Class championship games, thus eliminating extra days of competition and the costs associated with playing nine games in three days. The Prep Classic would again be a two-day event.

The LHSAA would provide the Division championship trophies for first- and second- place teams, as well as the Most Valuable Players awards. The LHSAA would retain the right to hang sponsor signage at the stadiums selected for the event provided that such signage does not conflict with exclusive sponsorship of the stadium. And the LHSAA would reserve the exclusive right to sell championship game T-shirts, caps and other souvenir items, and retain 100 percent of the revenue of items sold at the championships.

Eliminating Class C

Anacoco High School principal Kevin Dowdle proposes a reduction in the number of classifications from seven to six, as well as having fewer Select divisions in an effort to generate stronger districts and eliminate playoffs with numerous first-round byes.

The plan calls for Select schools in Class 5A and 4A to compete in Division I; schools in Classes 3A and 2A to compete in Division II; schools in Classes 1A and B to compete in Division III.

Of course, a Select schools would still be able to choose to compete for a championship in a higher division in basketball, baseball and softball. 

By eliminating Class C, the LHSAA would have to divide its membership as evenly as possible into six classes instead of seven.

  • In the ‘What if’ Department – The wording of the current amendment regarding the number of pitches that are allowed in a game, Lakeside High principal Danny Finley “pitched” a proposal that takes into account a rare situation that would cover an ambidextrous pitcher.

LHSAA pitching regulations require pitchers who throw between 35-59 pitches in a game to rest one day before pitching again;  two days rest for pitchers hurling 60-84 pitches; and three days rest for throwing between 85-115 pitches.

The Finley plan will base its pitch count on the number of pitches thrown to a batter with the same arm during an at-bat. 

If the pitcher throws 1-30 pitches with the same arm in one day, no rest is required.

But if the pitcher throws 15 pitches left-handed and 16 pitches right-handed during a game, he will not be eligible to throw the next day because his pitch count was over the maximum number of pitches allowed.

  • Protecting Officials – As a result of discussions with the Louisiana High School Officials Association, the LHSAA has proposed a series of items designed to address its sports officials’ concerns about their safety and well-being at games.

Expected to pass with little objection, the host school will have to provide a faculty, staff member or uniformed security official to escort officials to and from the parking area to the playing facility before and after a game.

The host will have to provide the officials a place to meet separately from the locations of the teams and coaching staffs’  location.

The LHSAA will also establish an ad-hoc committee to address officiating issues and compensation for their time and duties.

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

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