BATON ROUGE - The upcoming high school football season in Louisiana could be in jeopardy if referees and the Louisiana High School Athletic Association do not come to terms on a contract agreement.
Right now all referees, except in Lake Charles, plan to skip the season if their demands are not met by the LHSAA. The Louisiana High School Officials Association President Paul LaRosa says as independent contractors, referees will stand united until they get pay raises and contracts.
"We can simply choose not to work, and that's the situation we have," he said. "Our officials are going to choose not to work without a contract."
In May, the LHSOA sent out a fee schedule for each sport to 400 schools. LHSAA said schools could not agree to the contracts, because it would violate school handbooks. Talks between both sides then broke down.
"Our officials have done everything they can do for the kids," said LaRosa. "In our view it's time the principals stood up and did something, which is to show us some respect by agreeing that we'll have a voice in the process."
LaRosa says it would nearly impossible to find replacement referees in Louisiana, since people with interest in being an official already work through LHSOA. He says the LHSOA and LHSAA will met Sunday to negotiate again.
LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine released a statement about the issue saying "I requested to be added to the regularly scheduled official's association's executive committee meeting agenda for this weekend and the request was honored. I will approach this meeting with integrity and responsibility for the 390 plus high school principals and their 90,000 student athletes I represent. I am confident there will be some sort of resolve and/or at least immediate understanding."
High school football jamborees begin August 27.