BATON ROUGE — The Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s (LHSAA) state wrestling tournament may have low turnouts next year because of the proposed dates and location, a move that has some schools considering legal options.
The 2018 tournament is scheduled to return to CenturyLink Center in Bossier City the weekend before Mardi Gras, though LHSAA rules state that the tournament will be moved if it conflicts with the event.
Several individuals, including a past association president, a wrestling official and coaches have expressed frustration at the chosen dates. Robbie Dauterive, head coach at Brother Martin, has even mentioned a lawsuit.
“My school does not want me to use the phrase ‘sued the LHSAA’ anymore because it’s impossible for member schools to sue (them) and schools can also be fined for (doing so),” Dauterive told the Louisiana Record. “What I am saying, though, is that their decision and the way they went about it was wrong. I wish parents of wrestlers could do something legally against them. They’re destroying our sport.”
The coach said he and five other coaches previously met with Eddie Bonine, executive director of LHSAA.
“He assured us that he did not know about the rules saying that the tournament had to be moved,” Dauterive said. “I find that ridiculous that (he) didn’t know. He said it came down to the executive committee and that Shreveport had the best bid and that’s why it’s there. Now, we’re wondering why other places were not allowed to bid on the weekend that the tournament has been moved to.”
Baton Rouge presented a bid to host the event at the River Center, but the dates were off by two weeks, according to a report by SportsNOLA.com. Lafayette’s bid also didn’t work because of date issues.
“They’re (not) listening to us,” Dauterive said. “A principal needs to step up, whether it be from a private or public school, and demand an answer because this is ridiculous. I don’t think we’ve been given a straight answer yet to exactly what’s happening.”
Dauterive said attendance will suffer tremendously because of Mardi Gras and the distance fans and teams will have to travel, especially since the biggest contingent teams are from New Orleans and Baton Rouge.
“I’m not going to boycott,” Dauterive said. “But my team will stay across the river in Texas. I’ve got 100 kids on my team, and I’m just going to bring my starters up there. We’re already wrestling in front of an empty arena, so now (it’ll just be) emptier.”
Dauterive said there is little or no wrestling support in the Shreveport area and that this decision has “sucked the atmosphere out of our state tournament.” He said he thinks it was about money.
“There’s a tournament in New Orleans on Saturday, and myself and another coach are going to address the parents and wrestlers,” he said. “There’s no reason for this tournament to be in Shreveport, (and) we don’t want it in Shreveport. We’re definitely not going to go away (either). We want answers.”