LHSAA votes to reinstitute football playoff split

LHSAA votes to reinstitute football playoff split

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The high school football post-season is once again divided between select and non-select schools, following a Wednesday vote by the LHSAA executive committee during the organization's annual convention.

The vote reverses an announcement made less than two weeks ago. On January 15, LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine said the split was coming to an end because the athletic organization did not follow constitutional procedure when voting on the post-season format in 2013. That procedural error was found on January 7.

Wednesday's vote means there will continue to be nine championship games. Before the split, there were five classes with five championship games.

The return to the split was met with mixed reaction from athletic directors and principals.

"Having this many state champions is kind of reminiscent of 'everybody gets a trophy,' and I just don't think that's what competition is for, I don't think that's what it's about," said Jill White, the athletic director of U-High in Baton Rouge.

"The world's a cruel place, and a lot of these kids are coming from backgrounds and family lives that people don't understand how bad it is. If we give them a little bit of success on playing field or wherever, then we're doing something positive in their lives," said Jeffrey Odom, principal at Block High School in Jonesville, La.

Some principals said the split system makes things more fair. For example, before the divide, schools that only get students from a small area had to compete with schools pulling athletes from across the state.

"It kind of puts us on a level playing field with the teams we're playing against," Odom said.

On the other side of the fence, some school leaders complained that in certain divisions, there are not even enough teams to fill a bracket.

"That creates byes. That creates lost revenue. That creates less opportunity for our football players to compete," White said.

The decision to return to the split system is not final. There are several other options on the table, including a metro/rural split, a return to the five class system, and the addition of even more classes. One delegate has proposed extending the split, which current exists only for football, to every high school sport.

Still, principals and athletic directors all agree there is no perfect solution.

"You can divide the state up every way you want, north south, rural metro. Not everybody is going to agree. Not everybody is going to find one proposal that they're going to agree upon," White said.

The LHSAA convention continues through Friday. High school principals will vote on Friday about which setup they hope to see next year.

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