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OHSAA Commissioner Dan Ross reflects on Competitive Balance Proposal

By Michael Beaven Published: March 4, 2014

The Ohio High School Athletic Association has designed a competitive balance proposal for the fourth year in a row for schools to consider.

The OHSAA Board of Directors unanimously approved a proposal Tuesday that makes modifications on how schools are placed in tournaments in team sports.

The 27-member board approved a plan that is similar to the proposal that member schools voted upon last spring.

In addition to the size of a school’s enrollment, new modifying factors may be applied to students on each roster on a sport-by-sport basis that are based on where the student’s parents reside and/or the educational system history of the student.

All schools would be subject to the new competitive balance formula, which would be applied to students in the team sports of football, volleyball and boys and girls soccer in the fall, boys and girls basketball in the winter and baseball and softball in the spring.

The referendum voting by the 825 high school principals will take place between May 1 and 15. If approved, the proposal could become effective for the 2016-2017 school year.

“I’m extremely pleased with the plan that the committee has recommended and the Board has approved,” OHSAA Commissioner Dan Ross said. “While the proposal is similar to last year’s, the modified version is the result of a compilation of input from our superintendents, principals, athletic administrators and coaches. I’m most proud that we were able to work together and come up with a solution that will create a better system than we currently have because it looks at how schools secure the enrollment of their students participating in interscholastic athletics.”

If passed, the new proposal will require schools to submit to the OHSAA their team rosters of student-athletes in grades 9 through 12 and to provide more information about each student. Students in public schools will be subject to modifying factors if their parents do not reside in the district or the student has not been continuously enrolled in the district since seventh grade, and students in non-public schools will be subject to the same modifying factors if they did not attend that school’s designated “feeder” school(s) continuously since seventh grade or have not been continuously enrolled in the same system of education.

Ross said there are three types of schools: public with a single high school, public with multiples high schools and non-public schools.

The city of Akron features a district with seven public high schools (Buchtel, Firestone, East, Ellet, Garfield, Kenmore and North) and three faith based schools (Archbishop Hoban, St. Vincent-St. Mary and Our Lady of the Elms).

Dr. Ross said the public schools have their designated middle school and under the new proposal the catholic schools would choose one parish within the city of Akron as its “home parish.” He said they can make the decision based on geography, or go with the city’s largest parish or the parish where they feel they get most of their students from.

Walsh Jesuit and CVCA, both based in Cuyahoga Falls, would choose one parish as its “home parish” from Cuyahoga Falls or Stow, Ross said.

“It would be a two-year choice,” Ross said of the designated parish.

If you get kids from your “feeder system” following their seventh and eighth grade years, they count as just one student. If they come from outside your designated area they would add to your enrollment by a multiplier, which is plus-2 in football, plus-5 in volleyball, boys and girls basketball, baseball and softball and plus-6 in boys and girls soccer.

Sports such as cross country, tennis, golf, swimming and diving, wrestling, track and field, bowling and gymnastics would not be affected.

“The committee believed we probably ought to start with the team sports,” Ross said. “If this passes, the committee will look even more at the individual sports.”

OHSAA Director of Information Services Tim Stried said ballots will be mailed to schools on April 28. They are due back to the OHSAA by 4 p.m. on May 15 and announcement is set to follow on May 16.

“The Competitive Balance Committee has met its charge in that this proposal is not only reliable but also can be clearly applied and fairly administered for all member schools,” Ross said, “with the ultimate objective being to promote competitive equity and ensuring that student-athletes will continue to learn life lessons in an education-based setting.”

There is constantly talk from public school coaches from closed enrollment zones that are unhappy their teams have to play catholic-private or open enrollment public schools that feature “all-star teams.” There is also chatter from smaller Division I schools that the OHSAA is just moving the problem up from the smaller divisions, and it will make things even tougher for schools such as Nordonia, Copley, Hudson, Cuyahoga Falls and Stow when they already compete against larger Division I public and catholic schools.

Ross has no plans for a separation of tournaments, though there is a large group of people in Ohio who would like to see it happen.

“Our committee has been working since late summer and all fall on an alternative proposal,” Ross said. “We have been using feedback from our member schools.”

He also does not want to have three separate tournaments (public with closed enrollment, public with open enrollment and catholic-private) with multiple divisions.

“None of that discussion has ever happened in this office,” Ross said. “I hope it doesn’t.”



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