Almost immediately after the Milton girls lacrosse team won its 11th state title in 13 seasons, state Rep. Chuck Martin and Milton principal Brian Jones jumped on Twitter to take direct shots at the GHSA over the association’s decision to move the state title game to a neutral site.
Ahead of the 2017 season, an advisory committee made up of coaches and administrators recommended to the GHSA that championships for both A-5A and 6A-7A be played at Lakewood Stadium in Atlanta. This doesn’t sit well with Martin and Jones, who apparently prefer the previous system of granting one of the finalists home-field advantage. In the case of the 6A-7A girls title game, Milton played Cambridge — also located in Milton — and those schools are 4.7 miles apart from each other. Lakewood Stadium is 34 miles from Milton.
Here are some of the tweets in which Martin and James tagged the GHSA’s official account:
Martin, who represents North Fulton out of District 49, is only the latest state representative to speak out against the GHSA. The Georgia Assembly has already proposed House Bill 415 and Senate Bill 203, which are designed to replace the GHSA with a new, statewide governing body that would operate under the state board of education.
In the midst of the legislative pressure, GHSA executive director Gary Phillips offered his resignation effective at the end of the 2016-17 school year. His resignation was later approved by the GHSA executive committee.
Aside from Martin and Jones’ tweet-storm coming shortly after Milton’s win, the timing of it is curious on another front. It came just four days after the GHSA named Phillips’ replacement, Dr. Robin Hines, a former South Georgia football coach and high school principal who retired as superintendent of Houston County Schools in 2014.
The GHSA didn’t help its case for hosting the lacrosse championships at a neutral site by being ill-prepared for the girls A-5A title game, which was originally scheduled to be played on May 13 at Lakewood Stadium. The field at Lakewood was not properly lined and one of the nets had fastening issues, which forced the GHSA to postpone the game. It was eventually played four days later on May 17 at Walton.
In April, GHSA associate director Denis Tallini, who serves as the GHSA’s administrator for lacrosse, said that the GHSA was “excited about having a centralized venue to present the finals in, because we were looking for a way to showcase the sport while eliminating some of the home-field advantages from past seasons.”
In a portion of that interview with Tallini that wasn’t published at the time, he said of hosting the title games at Lakewood in the future: “It’s possible (the games) will be played at a different site next year…There’s no long-term agreement with Lakewood.”