Executive Director of the LHSAA Eddie Bonine is pictured here as he addresses members of the media. (Photo by Raymond Partsch, III)
Executive Director of LHSAA, Bonine, addresses media
BATON ROUGE- As a new year is about to begin, the Louisiana High School Athletic Association (LHSAA) hosted a media luncheon at its offices to discuss new happenings around the state when it comes to student-athletics.
The event came as Executive Director of the LHSAA Eddie Bonine begins his third year at the role. He said that his time in the position, “didn’t get off to a smooth start, but, in the grand scheme of things, I think the LHSAA is going in the right direction.”
Some of the issues that the LHSAA had to overcome under Bonine were litigaiton as well as debt on the new office building.
“When I absorbed this position, we were in litigation, but we got that resolved,” Bonine said. “We also had a debt on this building, but I’m proud to say that we are starting the second year of this building being paid off.”
“We’ve been able to cut back on overall expenses and costs and expenditures, and we’re in the process now of establishing and rebuilding the revenue stream,” he continued.”
Besides steering the ship past legal and financial problems, Bonine has also streamlined certain areas of the LHSAA such as compliance. “We have some schools now that have uploaded all of those documents onto our site so we can do a preliminary check,” he explained. “We can do a lot of it from here, but there is still that person who goes out into the school and goes through the files.”
Bonine also explained that his position as executive director is to have more transparency when it comes to voting, meetings, appeal processes, and sanctions. Another area of transparency comes with investigations.
“Every time somebody moves and the principal requests a modified rule check, I send an investigator out,” Bonine explained. “I’ve done that for every one of those times since I been here. I don’t have to work on probable cause. I’m not a cop; I’m an old principal.”
One of the major issues facing the LHSAA now is officiating such as finding ways to recruit, retain, and develop officials. According to Assistant Executive Director Lee Sanders who is head of officials, the target demographic is 21 to 30-year-olds.
“The NASO (National Association of Sports Officials) recently did a study that showed the average age of sports officials in the United States is 53,” said Sanders. “That number has increased over the last couple of decades and continues to do so.”
“What we can do now is trying to attract younger people into officiating and, then, supporting them in staying in officiating,” he continued. “Right now, we are loosing a lot of first, second, and third year officials. It’s very similar to what’s happening in the teaching profession. Hopefully, we will study some programs other states have done to mentor and to support officials.”
Sanders then discussed some of the reasons why young officials are dropping out of officiating. One of the main ones is sportsmanship when it comes to fans, coaches, and players. “It is very challenging, for example, when you have a mask and some gear on to get behind the plate and have a baseball coming at you,” he explained. “It is even more difficult when you compound that with issues from the stands and other peripheral sorts of things.”
He added, “I also believe another reason is that we may throw a young official into a situation that he may or may not be ready for. A lack of success can cause frustration.”
These issues and others around officiating were discussed at, what Sanders called, “the largest gathering of sports officials in Louisiana high school history.”
The Officiate Louisiana Day was an opportunity for about 1,400 officials to gather in New Orleans in conjunction with the NASO summit.”
The following is a run down of important dates that are coming up for this year’s football season.
•August 24- Jamboree.
•November 8- Regional Playoffs begin for Divisions I-IV; Bi-Disrict Playoffs begin for Classes 1A-5A.
•November 15- Quarterfinals begin for Division I-IV; Regionals begin for Classes 1A-5A.
•November 23- Semi-finals for Division I-IV; Quarterfinals for Classes 1A-5A.
•November 30- Semi-finals for Classes 1A-5A.
•December 6- State Championship games for Class 1A, Division IV, and Division III.
•December 7- State Championship games for Class 2A, Division II, and Class 3A.
•December 8- State Championship game for Division I, Class 4A, and Class 5A.