The effort to level the playing field in Ohio high school sports took two hits Thursday.
The first was to adjust which division schools were assigned for the state playoffs in select team sports. The second dealt with the eligibility of student-athletes who transfer. In both cases, athletic programs that have been extremely successful will benefit.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association announced that member school principals voted against the competitive balance referendum that would have moved schools based on the number of students outside of their district. The final vote was 327-308 against the proposal with 188 not casting a vote. The OHSAA mailed out 823 ballots to high schools.
The principals did vote in favor of reducing the transfer bylaw penalty from one year to the first 50 percent of the maximum allowable regular season contests in any sports the student participated the previous year and reduces the number of exceptions for immediate eligibility. This change passed 346-288 and becomes effective June 1.
OHSAA Commissioner Dr. Daniel B. Ross said on a 45-minute conference call that he was disappointed that the competitive balance proposal failed and by the large number of principals who elected to not vote on the issue.
“It failed by 19 votes,” Ross said. “Percentage-wise, it was 48.5 to 51.5 percent.
“We knew the competitive balance would be close. I was hoping it would pass. … This is a very passionate issue. We believed it would be close and it was the closest one yet.”
Ross was in favor of reducing the length of ineligibility for transfers who are approved under the existing rules.
This is the third competitive balance proposal that has been created recently.
The next proposal could be to have separate public and private tournaments.
“That issue is still on the table, where that goes, I can’t speak on that,” Ross said. “I still know that it is an issue that is still out there.”
This proposal was to change how schools are assigned to tournament divisions in football, soccer, volleyball, basketball, baseball and softball. Rather than place schools into OHSAA tournament divisions based strictly on male or female enrollment, an adjusted enrollment count would have been used.
The adjusted count would have been derived by multiplying a sport specific factor by the number of students in grades 9-12 on each team roster whose parents reside outside the public school district or the attendance zone of the school, then adding that number to the original enrollment count.
Other similar competitive balance proposals failed 339-301 in 2012 and 332-303 in 2011. Approval of this year’s proposed amendment would have been implemented in 2015.
“I will be consulting with our Board of Directors to see what action, if any, we take next, but I anticipate at a minimum that a proposal on separate tournaments for public and non-public schools will again be placed on the ballot next spring via the petition process,” Ross said.
Ross said four votes submitted were invalid and 27 arrived after the deadline, which was May 15 at 4:30 p.m. Most principals received a ballot on May 1.
“This was so close, 10 schools vote the other way and this passes,” Ross said. “We will bring the committee back and let them look at the results, and see if there are some things they want to tweak.”
Ross said a survey will be sent out to member schools regarding competitive balance, and that meetings will continue to take place to discuss options. He also said “you can’t force schools to vote.” He is open to other proposals, which could be voted on in May 2014.
A breakdown on how public and private schools voted was not made available, and there were also no details on how schools voted by division. Schools who chose not to vote were not released either.
Ross said the OHSAA looked at how other states conduct tournaments, and that other states are watching what is done in Ohio. He mentioned several states are considering competitive balance or have made changes, including Louisiana, Illinois, Kansas, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, Indiana and Georgia.
Other notable issue
A proposal that would have permitted open houses to take place in specified facilities other than the high school campus was opposed 324-309.
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or email@example.com. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.