High School Football Could Be In Jeopardy Over Referee Pay Dispute
Can you imagine a Friday night in South Louisiana during the fall with high school football stadiums silent? I just felt a chill go down my spine. That would be about as awful as awful can get for a Louisiana sports fan.
However, that just might be the case this August and early September if a pay dispute between game officials and the LHSAA are not resolved.
On the surface it looks as if the issue is merely a logistical one. But you don't have to scratch too far below that surface to realize there is a real pot of trouble brewing between the organization that regulates the schools and the organization that officiates the games.
The Louisiana High School Officials Association informed the Louisiana High School Athletic Association that they would like to have more money for their member officials. The LHSAA responded to that request by telling the LHSOA that such a pay increase was not possible at this time. Eddie Bonine Director of the LHSAA explained to the Louisiana Radio Network why he can't authorize an increase without a vote from the school principals.
We can't change the fee schedule, I can't authorize to waive that at this particular point, I'm not going to write a check that someone else has to cash
Bonine explained that the principals will not meet again until January. At that time a pay increase could be discussed and voted on.
Meanwhile a spokesman for the officials says the organization has only been granted two pay raises in the past 25 years. This time they are seeking an increase in pay for all sports, not just football. The organization spokesperson alluded to promises not kept by the LHSAA, that's why they've rejected the idea of waiting until 2016 for a vote.
Bonine believes if the impasse is not addressed and solved there could be an issue for high school football games. Obviously neither party wants the student athletes to suffer because of a disagreement in pay for officials. You can bet both sides will be looking to penalize the other should there be any disruption in play this fall.