Louisiana high school sports officials will be back to calling games tonight. Basketball referees protesting the lack of a pay increase walked off the court Monday, forcing the cancellation of some 80 contests statewide. But a promise Wednesday from the Louisiana High School Athletic Association to revisit a rejected raise was enough to sway most of them to return. (As of Wednesday night, members of one officials association were still holding out, according to media reports.)
The decision came after an emergency meeting of the heads of the state's 14 officials associations, principals representing those associations and members of the LHSAA staff and executive committee. The walkout occurred after principals voted down a pay hike requested by officials at the Louisiana High Athletic Association's annual meeting last week. The raises would have affected football, basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball, soccer and wrestling officials.
According to Bryan Greenwood, president of the Louisiana High School Officials Association, officials in Louisiana are paid in the lower 35 percent of all officials in the United States. "Out intent was never to hurt the integrity of the game," Greenwood told the Bastrop Daily Enterprise. "We made our stand. We were never going to sacrifice anyone's season."
Principals say tight budgets are one reason why officials were denied raises, but at least one thinks the officials effectively made their point. "The statement that was made by the officials walking out, ... that might have changed quite a few minds," Kenneth Delcambre, principal of South Terrebonne High School in Bourg and president of the LHSAA executive committee, told the Associated Press. "We need to do something. I feel very positive that this can be passed."
The LHSAA's executive committee plans to consider proposals that call for salary increases, cost-of-living increases and officiating requirements in March, according to WAFB.com. A vote on the pay increase will take place at a special meeting on June 3.