Writing about a team thrown for a huge loss before the first official snap of the season is a new one for me.
Regardless of which side of the Southern Lab issue you stand on, there is one point most will agree on — many questions remain for the Kittens and the LHSAA.
I have answers for a few of those questions and some thoughts. Yes, the LHSAA’s ruling is the most far-reaching I’ve seen. Southern Lab is banned from the football playoffs for two years and also has to vacate 2015 and 2016 Division IV titles along with a 2014 runner-up finish.
Why? The ruling will affect a yet-to-be determined number of student/athletes and brought suspensions for coaches, including now former Southern Lab head coach Marcus Randall. Student/athletes who left Southern Lab for other schools also could face suspensions, another unprecedented possibility.
And where possibilities loom, there are always rumors, a few of which, I can refute as the Kittens work to prepare for their Week 1 game at Riverside Academy with new head coach Darrell Asberry in charge. And yes, Southern Lab has the right to move on.
No. 1 – “Are there really going to be 31 players transferring out of Southern Lab?”
Not according to LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine. There may be a few transfers, but the LHSAA won’t offer a chance to leave a sanctioned program like the NCAA does. In fact, Bonine said students who transfer out would be ruled ineligible because they will have moved for athletic purposes.
“The only reasons a student would leave would be to create athletic eligibility or because they weren’t paying tuition, either one is a violation of our rules,” Bonine said.
It will be interesting to see if the LHSAA looks into allegations of other schools trying to persuade Southern Lab players to transfer. That kind of “recruiting” also is a violation if it can be proven.
No. 2 – “This is no problem for Marcus Randall; he’ll go get a college job because he’s a former LSU quarterback, right?”
No, actually Randall can’t. Under NCAA rules he couldn’t be hired for two years because the team he coached included prospects currently being recruited.
Some colleagues view Randall as a scapegoat. Since the findings of the investigation are not released to the media/public because the LHSAA was deemed a private organization a few years ago, all we know is what we are told and we’re told he was suspended for a year and terminated by the school.
A lack of program control issue? We don’t know. The fact that Randall is a past winner of the LHSAA’s Golden Torch Award given to distinguished alumni certainly offers a contrasting picture.
No. 3 – “Are they going after the other sports at Southern Lab? I’ve hear they’re going after (FILL IN THE BLANK) too.”
The LHSAA ruling placed other Southern Lab sports on probation but did not ban them from the playoffs. What the LHSAA pursues after football remains to be seen, but the ruling issued Tuesday did not indicate other sports were involved.
As for sanctions involving other schools, who knows? Rulings spark plenty of rumors. One involving two traditional public schools is one of my favorites. It remains to be seen whether there’s more than hot air and some alleged “paperwork.”
Remember, the sanctions for Southern Lab were generated from an investigation that the school itself gave to the LHSAA after nearly a year of work. I am curious to see what the next LHSAA-generated investigation yields.
No. 4 – “What about the trophies?” Bonine stated the titles, etc., were vacated, but a bylaw which states that the runner-up school should “receive the trophy” is still in the LHSAA handbook. That, Bonine says, is under review.
A lot of moving pieces still must be resolved. Schools with players who transferred from Southern Lab, I’m sure, have been told not to play them until their eligibility status is determined.
As Yogi Berra once said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.” I don’t think this one is over yet.
Congratulations to former Plaquemine High coach Don Jones for being honored at halftime of Friday’s jamboree. Jones, who also coached locally at Woodlawn High, was honored for his 2016 induction into the Louisiana High School Sports Hall of Fame. He was 116-54 at PHS.
• Silliman Institute seeks a head baseball coach. The Mississippi Association of Independent Schools member school won back-to-back championships in 2000-01 and 2015-16. Applicants should email their resume to Athletic Director T.J. Davis at [email protected]
Follow Robin Fambrough on Twitter, @FambroughAdv