Daigle: Split solution out there

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 17, 2004


Man, is Tennessee in a quandary in its world of high school sports.

Already operating in a system that places many of its private schools in a separate division than others (those offering financial aid in one and those who don’t with the public schools), member schools tried again to level the playing field back in November.

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The all-out split passed mightily, but the executive committee overruled it with a 5-4 vote.

If schools in Louisiana aren’t careful, they could be down that same road.

Much like the LHSAA, the Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association is embroiled in a public-private debate that may be to a higher degree of controversy.

The target is a school like Nasvhille-area Brentwood Academy &045;&160;Louisiana’s Evangel, if you will &045;&160;had dominated high school football there and set a record for the number of state championships won.

With 283 students, Brentwood won the Class 5A title over public 1,800-enrollment Riverdale High of Mufreesboro.

But unlike Evangel, Brentwood offers financial assistance for tuition &045; a tool that further entices area prospects an opportunity to enroll. Further, the school sent out flyers to all Nashville-area eighth-graders asking them to consider enrolling at Brentwood and playing for a state powerhouse football team.

(If that happened in the LHSAA, one can only imagine the degree of upheaval.)

So schools like Brentwood now are in their own division, much like a proposal from the LHSAA would have done Friday.

And like the debate in Tennessee, many public school coaches and principals in Louisiana are sick of the situation.

But cooler heads prevailed during Friday’s general business session instead f placing private schools in their own division. Principals voted to form an ad hoc committee to hear complaints from both sides and make a report during a special meeting of the LHSAA.

&uot;I think over the years I’ve been associated with the LHSAA you do have problems,&uot;&160;John McDonough principal Walter Goodwin said of the split proposal.&160;&uot;I don’t think it’s to the magnitude it’ll be if you don’t discuss this. I think you’re going to buy into more problems than you’re looking for.&uot;

There are too many problems now, some public school officials argue. While the attendance zone rule for private schools addressed some of the problems, public school officials argue private schools can recruit &045; they must, quite honestly in order to keep their doors open.

In a vote that went along North vs. South and city vs. rural lines, many of the 71 who voted against it feel it’s high time to do something.

Discuss it?&160;Shoot, people have been discussing it since Evangel started winning championships in the early 1990s.

&uot;We’ve been down this road before,&uot; Vidalia head football coach Dee Faircloth said.&160;&uot;’We’re going to do this, we’re going to take care of this and we’re going to fix the situation.’ It’s all about money. Private schools are where the money is at. They control the situation.&uot;

Adam Daigle

is sports editor of The Natchez Democrat. Reach him at (601) 445-3632 or at