LHSAA vs Robison far from over

Kristian Garic
September 20, 2018 - 7:23 am

The Louisiana High School Athletic Association rocked high school football and high school athletics a week ago.  The LHSAA upheld a decision by Executive Director Eddie Bonine that suspended Hahnville football Coach Nick Saltaformagio would remain suspended for four games and SR QB Andrew Robison remained ineligible.  One week later there has been plenty of new twists and developments to the story. The Robison family continued their fight to get Andrew on the field by filing an arbitration hearing.  LHSAA Executive Director Eddie Bonine spoke publicly about the ruling on Sports Talk with Bobby Hebert and me (Kristian Garic).

Let’s start with Eddie Bonine’s interview with us on Tuesday.  The executive director gave Bobby Hebert and me 25 minutes on the air in a pretty candid interview. I opened with what seemingly would be an easy question.  What’s the mission statement of the LHSAA?

Bonine couldn’t recite the mission statement. “I don’t have it in front of me.”  I was a little surprised. After being told by the LHSAA that Bonine didn’t want to talk specifics about the Robison case, we then asked him some general questions about what constitutes a “bonafide” move.  He then went into specifics about the Robison case and even admitted that a piece of that element was satisfied.

After hearing his willingness to talk about the case, we pressed further. We inquired about how investigations are handled after a member school submits another school for a possible violation. We learned there are approximately 10 investigators to look into alleged wrong doings. Those ten individuals are comprised of former administrator’s void of any real training on how to conduct investigations. The investigators, according to Eddie Bonine, are qualified because they’ve conducted investigations with their schools and trained on search and seizure.

As the interview continued, I went on into specifics of the Robison case asking about one in particular piece of evidence that I was aware but his investigators weren’t aware of. The evidence in question is a conversation with Drew Robison (father of Andrew) and Vandebilt Catholic Head Coach Jeremy Atwell after Robison’s contract was not renewed.  Atwell asked Robison to stay on as a volunteer coach and said that tuition would be paid for by the school if Andrew remained on the team. 

Furthermore, the LHSAA findings report acknowledges that Atwell even told Drew Robison that he went to lengths to find employment for Robison to supplement his income. The Robison family recognized that as a violation of the LHSAA rules and didn’t accept the offer. Bonine said in his interview that he wasn’t aware of that evidence and he would make a note of it.

When we pressed him again that Drew Robison said in the appeal hearing with the executive committee that Coach Atwell did indeed offer tuition for his son and that he had told investigators that, Bonine didn’t recall hearing that testimony and that he would have to go back and read the transcripts. What was stunning was I knew more about the testimony and investigation than the executive director.

Wrapping up the conversation, we asked the executive director to give us a timeline on when the arbitration hearing would occur for the Robison family and Bonine offered a timeline of two weeks. After hearing the interview with Bonine, David Moyer called into Sports Talk and explained that it’s nearly impossible for Arbitration to happen in the time line Bonine described.  Discovery in these cases takes 90 days Moyer asserted.

The next step for the Bonine family is to file a temporary restraining order on the LHSAA, Vandebilt Catholic, Hahnville High School, and Jeremy Atwell.  The Temporary Restraining order on Hahnville isn’t a grievance, but a protection for the school to not face punitive action in the future from the LHSAA.

This court filing will happen on Thursday morning, and now Hahnville High School has a decision to make.  Do they play Andrew Robison Friday night against their biggest rival in Destrehan High School and risk future punishment by the LHSAA or violate a court order.  This is a sordid mess that could have been avoided on so many levels.  Below you can listen to the interview with Eddie Bonine and David Moyer. More to come, this saga continues.

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