Byrd football might be coming back into the non-select fold after parish boundary lines, not traditional school attendance zones, were designated athletics attendance zones Friday at the Louisiana High School Athletics Association annual convention in Baton Rouge.
Byrd principal Jerry Badgley said he’s waiting to hear official word from LHSAA executive director Kenny Henderson.
“We think it’s a possibility … and that’s kind of what we were told would be the end result,” Badgley said. “Usually after the votes, Kenny Henderson will send out an email of what proposals passed and what it means.”
Under the old attendance zone rules, Byrd enrolled more than 25 percent of its student body from outside of its traditional attendance zone.
Now that Byrd’s athletics attendance zone is Caddo Parish, Byrd doesn’t surpass that 25 percent mark.
“We knew that was a possibility coming in, but there were several other items from the LHSAA and the school relations committee that addressed athletic recruiting and transfer rules, and that all passed,” Badgley said. “Regardless of the parish boundary rule, we’re still opposed to select-nonselect split.
“We don’t want to see the LHSAA split apart. If you force a student to choose between a public school in this association or choose a private school in a different association, we’re afraid that many public schools can’t compete in many parts of this state.”
Byrd lost to Rummel in the Division I state title game this past season, the first time the Yellow Jackets had competed for a football state title since 1962.
All five classes voted to keep the select/non-select split in football intact Thursday, and the general assembly approved all class votes in the general assembly Friday. Under the split system, Calvary (Division III) won its first-ever football state title while Parkway made its first-ever football title appearance.
Back to eligibility, just because the LHSAA deems that students would be athletically eligible at any school in their home parish, that doesn’t mean a student can choose to attend any school in the parish.
Bossier Schools Superintendent D.C. Machen said his parish, which doesn’t have any magnet schools, will keep its same school attendance zones.
“The proposal states the parishes with multiple LHSAA schools can establish their own attendance zones, and we already have those attendance zones set,” Machen said. “Unless they fall under an exception like the majority-to-minority transfer rule, bonafide residents of that school will attend that school.”
Every Caddo Parish high school except Northwood has a magnet component. Northwood athletics director and high school coach Jim Gatlin said that he views the parish boundary rule as a way to keep student-athletes from transferring as easily once they’ve picked a high school.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a fire sale with everybody switching schools,” Gatlin said. “You’ve got to get into that school first (whether it’s via a magnet program or another avenue).
“Whether the parish will provide transportation for all the kids that want to go to different schools is an issue. What this rule does do is say that once a kid has picked a school and then decides to transfer, he has to sit out a year.”
Several coaches used the case of Santos Ramirez, the defensive back who transferred from Captain Shreve to Evangel before his senior year, as an example of the type of transfer that wouldn’t be allowed anymore.
The new rule states that any transfer, with exceptions like the majority-to-minority transfer or administrative transfer, will have to sit out one calendar year, even if it’s a bonafide move within the parish. The student would still be eligible at their original school in a move.
Calvary football coach John Bachman, Sr., said while he feels like high school magnet components leveled whatever advantage private schools are perceived to have, the parish-wide boundaries basically gives all schools the license to recruit.
“I’ve said that our magic word is ‘private,’ and their magic words are ‘magnet’ or ‘charter’ or the ‘majority to minority transfer,'” Bachman said. “We’re private for a reason, and that probably means that we have kids cross our boundary lines.
“But now the parents can choose the school, and I think that’s a good thing. Now they can go get theirs.”
Will Evangel choose to play up?
Since 2005, schools like Evangel and John Curtis played in a classification determined by enrollment and not by choice.
But now schools can once again play in a higher classification/division thanks to a proposal passed Friday.
Schools must play up in all sports, and the change wouldn’t take effect until the new two-year classification period, which starts again in the 2015-16 academic year.
Evangel football coach Byron Dawson said his school has no immediate plans to move up in classification. A school has until the day of the next classification meetings to declare their intentions to play up.
“In the past, we’ve played up at the highest class even when we had (Class 1A numbers),” Dawson said. “We’re a Class 2A school playing up in Class 3A this year.
“We will discuss it with the principals and administration and all the parties involved. It’s not just a football decision, this is a decision that affects all sports.”
Evangel played in Class 5A in all sports from 1999-2004, winning four football state championships.
Calvary coach John Bachman, Sr., said his school has no intentions of playing in a classification higher than their enrollment.
“We discussed it a couple of years ago, and all the department heads decided that no matter what, we were going to grow with our numbers,” Bachman said. “If we have (Class 2A) numbers, that’s where we’ll stay.”
Will the LHSAA stay together?
A proposal splitting all sports, not just football, didn’t make it to the general assembly floor this year, but it’s an idea gaining ground and could be brought up in future years.
Calvary football coach John Bachman, Sr., said it might be an issue that would push private schools (predominantly Catholic) toward forming their own association.
“My Catholic brothers said they thought this year would be a mending process, and we expected the bigger classes and maybe even Class 1A to come back together (in football),” Bachman said. “But it seems like the natural progression of things means the (football) split is here to stay, and now there’s a sentiment to go after other sports.”
Many High principal Norman Booker III discussed such a proposal in Class 2A meetings, but decided against bringing a proposal.
But the groundwork may be laid for a select/non-select split in all sports.
“If that’s the case, I’ve been told by my Catholic friends that (a separation) may be coming,” Bachman said. “When you have gender-only sports affected (female sports), they may start listening to their male counterparts.
“Why would we want to stay in an association that separates us and then keeps the money to tell us what to do?”
Bachman said this past week he would advise Calvary to join the Catholic private schools if a split did occur.
Several other school officials said they’ve heard rumors of a possible split, but one coach said it might just be a scare tactic to keep other sports together.
No success factor
Two proposals for a tournament success factor in all sports, one was just football-only, were voted down.
That’s news that Haynesville coach David Franklin likes to hear.
Had the tournament success factor been implemented the past two seasons, Haynesville would have found themselves playing 2A football.
“That’s not the solution,” Franklin said. “We would have possibly been playing Class 2A football with 160 (enrollment).
“Supposedly there are people that don’t do it the right way, but for people that are doing it the right way, (a tournament success factor) isn’t right.”
Franklin said he isn’t in favor of the parish-wide attendance zones either, saying he wants kids to play where they live.
“Some say people should have a choice, but we like to get people from Haynesville, and we want people from Homer to go to Homer,” Franklin said.
Claiborne Parish three high schools – Haynesville, Homer and Summerfield.