Riverside AD rails against public/private split

Published 12:10 am Wednesday, March 16, 2016

LAKE CHARLES — After Riverside Academy had been awarded its silver and wood trophy, after the team had posed for a non-celebratory team photo and after Coach Timmy Byrd had tried to explain to the media what in the heck had just happened in his team’s 41-33 loss to Madison Prep in the Class 2A state championship game, Byrd offered a eulogy for the Top 28 Boys Basketball Tournament.

He was not kind.

If things continue on the current path set by the principals of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association, future championship events will have a much different look. Beginning next year, the LHSAA is set to be split into two sectors, with public schools on one side and private/select schools (any school with an admission policy used to select its student body) on the other.

Football has been crowning select and non-select champions, nine in five non-select classes and four select division, since 2013. If instituted in basketball next school year, there will be 12 champions crowned with seven classes for the public schools and five divisions for the select schools.

“I think it’s a crime,” Byrd said. “Life is about competition. I’m glad that I’m on the side that is not discriminating and running from competition. The fact of the matter is we don’t live that way. I don’t think any of my kids would want a championship trophy handed to them without working for it.”

He then deferred to his players on the podium — Malik Crowfield, Herb McGee and Jared Butler, each of whom said, “No.”

Byrd recognizes that his team, which has made it to the Class 2A finals the last seven years in a row, is considered to be part of the “problem.”

He referenced an LHSAA proposal, voted down, which would have essentially designated teams that have won too many championships as “elite” and moved them up in class.

That would certainly have included Riverside, which has won five of the last seven titles.

Byrd previously won seven championships as coach of the Reserve Christian Eagles.

“We’ve been one of the problem children for a while now,” Byrd said.

Byrd also has been rather vocal about the possibility of breaking away from the LHSAA completely and starting a whole new association.

Private school principals and coaches have been meeting throughout the state since the January vote.

“I think it’s going to happen,” Byrd said. “I think it’s just a matter of time.”