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OHSAA announces competitive balance proposal for high school sports fails in close vote

By Michael Beaven Published: May 16, 2013

The Ohio High School Athletic Association announced Thursday that member schools principals voted against the referendum on competitive balance that pertains to public and private schools.

The final vote was 327-308, and 188 did not vote. The OHSAA said it mailed out 823 ballots to high schools.

Here is the release from the OHSAA:

COLUMBUS, OhioSeven of the nine proposed Ohio High School Athletic Association constitution and bylaw revisions passed as voted upon by OHSAA member schools, Commissioner Daniel B. Ross, Ph.D., has announced. Highlighting the voting was approval of a significant change to the transfer bylaw, but a proposal to change how schools are placed into their tournament divisions for team sports failed for the third consecutive year. Overall, changes were approved to two constitution items and five bylaw items.

The change to the OHSAA transfer bylaw reduces the penalty for transfer from one year to the first 50 percent of the maximum allowable regular season contests in any sports in which the student participated the previous year and reduces the number of exceptions for immediate eligibility. This change, which will be applied both retroactively and prospectively, passed 346 votes to 288 and becomes effective June 1, 2013.

Highlighting the two bylaw issues that did not pass was a proposal to change how schools are assigned to tournament divisions in the team sports of football, soccer, volleyball, basketball, baseball and softball to address competitive balance. 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 through 12 on each specific 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. The competitive balance proposal failed 327 to 308 (51.5 percent to 48.5 percent). Other similar competitive balance proposals failed 339 to 301 (53 percent to 47 percent) in 2012 and 332 to 303 (52 percent to 48 percent) in 2011. Approval of this year’s proposed amendment would have been implemented in 2015.

 “When this new proposal was placed on the ballot, we said at the time that the vote would come down to the wire, and it certainly did,” Ross said, “It’s disappointing that it did not pass because we believed this formula addressed the main issue to which schools voiced concern: the impact on athletic success by students on a school’s team roster who are from outside that school’s geographic boundary or attendance zone.

 “As everyone is aware, this is the third year in a row a competitive balance proposal has been narrowly defeated. 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.”

A proposal that called for all OHSAA tournaments to be conducted separately for public schools and non-public schools was removed from this year’s ballot in late March when the OHSAA and the petition originator, together with representatives from his group, mutually worked to reach a resolution on the issue. It was replaced by the latest competitive balance proposal.

“I believe separation of our tournaments is not the best option,” Ross added. “That being said, I also believe almost 50 percent of our member schools believe some type of change is needed, but no one seems to have the answer for what change would satisfy the most people. One thing seems pretty certain, though: this issue is not going to go away. It’s something in which many, many other states are also struggling to find an answer.”

All nine 2013 proposals were placed up for referendum vote by the OHSAA Board of Directors. High school principals had between May 1 and 15 to cast their votes on eight of the issues, and one issue was voted upon by 7th- and 8th-grade principals. A simple majority is all that is required for a proposed amendment to be adopted.

The complete final voting results are available on the OHSAA website (ohsaa.org), and the 2013-14 OHSAA Constitution and Bylaws will be posted on the site sometime in late June or early July.

                                        A Review of the Other 2013 OHSAA Referendum Issues

Constitution 5, Governance— Changes the ex-officio member on the OHSAA Board of Directors from the Ohio Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (OIAAA) to a representative of the OIAAA rather than the president-elect. Effective date: August 1, 2013.

551 in favor; 85 opposed

Constitution Article 8, Amendments to the Constitution and Bylaws— In the event that a conflict would arise with Ohio state law or proposed legislative action that necessitates an immediate change in the bylaws or constitution, this change permits the Board to authorize an emergency petition for vote of the membership to change or modify a bylaw or article of the constitution. Effective date: August 1, 2013.

561 in favor; 75 opposed

Bylaw 4-3, Enrollment and Attendance — Adds a note preceding Section 3 to clarify enrollment status; amends exception 7 of Bylaw 4-3-1 to note that students who attend STEM schools are also subject to the transfer bylaws, and modifies Bylaw 4-3-2 to make it clear that the bylaw applies only to the application of the semester bylaws within this section and also clarifies that a student is still considered to have transferred whenever his or her enrollment is changed to another high school, even if the student has not been officially withdrawn from the former high school. Effective date: June 1, 2013.

557 in favor; 79 opposed

Bylaw 4-6-3, Residence— Adds language that would permit the Commissioner’s Office to grant eligibility to a student who moves into Ohio with an individual who has had legal custody of the student for more than one year and the parents do not reside in Ohio. The student would not be eligible until ruled so by the Commissioner’s Office. This also adds another exception that addresses an unusual situation in which a United States citizen, who is precluded from obtaining a J-1 visa due to his or her U.S. citizenship, cannot study in the United States for one year when the parents are not U.S. citizens and live outside the United States. This exception would permit just one year of participation in interscholastic athletics. Effective August 1, 2013. 

562 opposed; 71 in favor

Bylaw 4-9, Recruiting — This proposal would have permitted open houses to take place in specified facilities other than just the high school campus.

324 opposed; 309 in favor

Bylaw 4-10, Amateur— Modifies the bylaw by permitting students to receive travel expenses to competitions from sponsors that are not connected with their school. Effective date: June 1, 2013.

460 in favor; 171 opposed

Bylaw 4-4-5, Scholarship (7th-8th Grade Issue)— Adds exceptions 1 and 2 to this scholarship bylaw to track the same provisions that are found in the high school scholarship bylaw (waiver for a student who has been withdrawn of removed from school due to accident, illness or family hardship; ability to restore eligibility when an ‘incomplete’ has been received in one or more courses due to calamity days, family tragedy or illness/accident and the ‘incomplete’ is recorded in accordance with board policy). Effective date: August 1, 2013.

347 in favor; 183 opposed

823 high school ballots were mailed, 667 ballots were returned including 4 invalid and 27 past the deadline (81 percent)

765 7th-8th grade ballots were mailed, 369 ballots were returned including 4 invalid (48.2 percent)

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