BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The future of high school sports in Louisiana was up for debate Wednesday in Baton Rouge as more than 300 school principals and representatives came together for a special meeting to discuss a split between public and private schools.
Some people called it a huge waste of time, others said it is the beginning of the end for the LHSAA. Just over 56 percent of those in attendance Wednesday voting to keep the private-public school split in place for all sports in 2016-17.
Over 300 voters showed up at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Wednesday and many immediately hit the door following the final vote.
The vote means there will be nine state championships in football again for the upcoming season, and new this year, there will be 12 state championships in both boys and girls basketball, with the split also expanding to baseball and softball as well.
Football was divided into that format three years ago, and principals voted this year to extend the split for basketball, baseball and softball.
There is now strong talk that many of the private schools will break away form the LHSAA and form their own organization as early as the 2017-18 athletic year.
"Gosh I'd hate to speculate on that, I really would," said LHSAA Commissioner Eddie Bonine. "But I'd hope that the individuals who are thinking about leaving will stay with us and do what we can to try to make what we've passed today work. But if they choose to leave, then they choose to leave and I really can't do anything at this point to get them to stay."
"I think the 2017-2018 school year they'll be a new association," said Dunham head football coach Neil Weiner. "You know we've come to find out... I think private schools have been wanting to stay together these last three or four years, when we've had these split votes come up. I think more and more the private schools are coming to the realization the LHSAA is a public school association."
Some hoped a compromise to the playoff split would be found with several proposals being submitted for the vote Wednesday. However, over half the LHSAA members chose the option to keep the current format instead of taking up any of new proposals.
The special meeting took place the day after the LHSAA Executive Committee Summer meeting was held on June 6 and June 7. It was narrowly approved by the LHSAA Executive Committee on April 14.