LHSAA: Ten schools under investigation for infringement of practice start-date rules
BATON ROUGE - The Louisiana High School Athletics Association is investigating a steadily increasing list of Louisiana schools suspected of allowing student-athletes to practice before the new June 8 start date.
According to The Advocate, the investigation began on Tuesday, with a list of only four New Orleans area schools suspected of over-stepping the rules, but now that list has increased to ten schools across the state, according to LHSAA executive director Eddie Bonine said.
Bonine said reports on two other New Orleans schools came in Wednesday in addition to reports about two Lafayette-area schools as well as two in north Louisiana.
He also said one Baton Rouge school had been cleared.
“These schools were reported to us … we did not go looking for them,” Bonine said. “They were reported to us by other schools as well as by parents who did not want their kids involved but were told if the child did not come (to workouts), they would be in trouble.
“We were sent pictures and videos. We’ve sent investigators out. So far, we’ve spoken with all but one of the administrators in the New Orleans area in that first group of four schools. We also did a drive-by of between nine and 12 schools in the Baton Rouge-Livingston Parish area yesterday (Tuesday) and found nothing going on.”
Bonine declined to name the schools.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the LHSAA executive committee met via conference call in mid-May and opted to move the normal summer practice date from May 17 to June 8.
This moved the date that student-athletes were allowed to begin working out to the start of Gov. John Bel Edwards’ Phase 2 of reopening businesses and the economy.
Two days after the June 8 date was announced, Bonine sent schools a list of potential sanctions that may be levied on schools caught violating the rules, noting that the date change put sports under the LHSAA’s jurisdiction until June 8.
The list of sanctions includes fines of $2,500, probation or suspensions for both schools and coaches. The letter was in response to multiple calls asking about sanctions schools could receive by practicing early.
“In the letter, I asked them (schools) not to put this office or me in the position to penalize them,” Bonine said. “At this point, I’m at a loss for words over this. The ones who are sanctioned will have the right to appeal when we (the executive committee) meet June 24. But this is something the I feel good about the committee backing me up on.”
Bylaw 5.11.14 lists an extensive set of penalties which could be assessed to any schools found guilty.
“At that point,” Bonine said, “I would obviously levy a penalty and it’s not going to be pretty.”
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