The Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s Executive Director recently released a memorandum, updating the situation involving schools in the association as it relates to coronavirus measures taken by the state and how it relates to athletics.
“Over the course of the past couple of weeks I believe any if not all of us were hoping to have seen some of the Governor’s mitigation measures relaxed as of May 1, 2020. As we all know, that did not happen, so all we can hope for is a gate opens between Phase zero and Phase I of the multi-tiered Phase process at the middle of the upcoming month,” the release stated.
Bonine then went on to address several questions he has received regarding what schools can and can not do this summer in preparation for LHSAA sanctioned fall sports.
“We all know that will hinge on what Phase the Governor prescribes. In the proclamation that shut down all public school facilities, the Governor stated for the remainder of the school year. For many, if not all of you, this date will be within the next 20 days,” Bonine continued.
One of the frequently asked questions was whether coaches and athletes at that time will be allowed to return to campus, weight rooms and the playing fields.
“I reached out and spoke with the Governor’s Education Policy Advisor and made him aware of this potential. He stated he will bring it to the Governor’s attention. That said, in a “normal school year”, LHSAA bylaws permits the start date for all sports’ summer rules in the 46th week of the NFHS calendar. That date is May 17, 2020.
Bonine then directed attention to several LHSAA bylaws.
One of the subsections of one of the bylaws states, “summer activities in all LHSAA sports at the school’s facilities, use of school equipment and sport specific apparatus are subject to approval by the principal.”
Bonine added that football will be allowed to start early practice.
“Any school choosing not to participate in spring football at all, may start their fall practice on Monday of Week five of the NFHS calendar and start in full gear on Thursday of Week five.”
Because no schools were allowed to participate in spring football because of the Governor’s action, Bonine said, football playing schools will be granted the early start.
The executive director made another point:
“In the grand scheme of things, the LHSAA has very limited authority as it relates to summer activities. The bulk of the responsibility for if and/or when people are allowed back on to school facilities will fall to the local education authority (LEA). My biggest concern, will be the potential of inconsistency of implementation for this allowance between private schools and public schools, as well as, parish to parish and campus to campus.”
Bonine said athletes will not be given an extra year of eligibility due to the circumstances surrounding the pandemic.
“Any/all athletic eligibility moving forward, the LHSAA will adhere to any/all Constitution and Bylaws as prescribed to include but not limited to; academics, hold back, eight semester and fifth year eligibility. However, as prescribed, any/all eligibility ruling requests (ERR) submitted to our office will be take on its own merit, but know cases related to COVID-19 as its merit, will not be entertained for eligibility purposes and/or hardship appeals.”