Ohio High School principals voted against the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s competitive balance referendum for a second year in a row. The measure, which was supposed to narrow the gap between public and private schools, failed by 38 votes. Thirteen other referendum items passed, the state organization announced Wednesday.
The competitive balance proposal was aimed at changing the way schools are put into divisions for the state tournaments in six sports — football, basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball and soccer.
Under the proposed change, male and female enrollment wouldn’t be the only determining factor in deciding which schools play in which divisions, as is the system used today. Enrollment would remain as the first aspect, but others would have been added to create an “athletic count,” including a boundary factor (how a school secures students), a tradition factor (sport-by-sport success in reaching the regional and/or state tournament over an eight-year period) and a socioeconomic factor (number of students involved in the free lunch program).
The proposal failed by a vote of 339-301 (53 percent). It was shot down a year ago 332-303 (52 percent). More than 20 percent of eligible principals abstained. A majority vote is needed.
Commissioner Dan Ross says he will not initially bring back the Competitive Balance Committee.
“I’m a little disappointed but honestly this is one of those issues that the more conversations we have, the closer we’re going to get,” Ross said in a conference call. “We knew it’d be close, just didn’t know if it’d pass or fail.
“Do I believe we can make our system of putting teams in the tournament better? This was at least an effort to do that. I think there are some schools in this state that honestly believe they don’t have a fair shot in dealing with their tournaments. From our vote, we had a very consistent 48 percent that believe we can do better. And we have a 52 percent that would like to keep it the way it is.”
Ross expects a petition, based out of Northeast Ohio, to be successful in adding to the ballot a proposal for separate tournaments. Seventy-five signatures are needed and five from each district.
“It’s a group of superintendents that started this proposal in 2009 to separate,” Ross said. “They are good people, they’re doing what they think is right for their kids and they honestly believe the only true competitive balance is to separate the tournament.”
Ross believes that notion could have made it onto the ballot this year, but they wanted to wait and see how the voting went.
He also knows competitive balance will continue to be a hot topic.
“It’s an issue that involves a lot of people, and everyone is trying to do what they think is best for them,” Ross said. “This issue isn’t going away.”
Ryan Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.