The Ohio High School Athletic Association’s competitive balance plan will begin a year later than originally expected.

Member schools passed the plan through referendum vote in May 2014, and initially the OHSAA planned to collect roster data during the current 2015-2016 school year and begin the plan during the 2016-2017 school year.

OHSAA Commissioner Dr. Dan Ross announced Thursday that competitive balance will commence during the 2017-2018 school year. Activating the plan in the fall of 2017 will coincide with the start of the OHSAA’s next two-year enrollment cycle, and will also allow for additional time to test the roster data collection software.

“Waiting to implement competitive balance with the next two-year cycle makes sense and will give us more time to test the software and train our schools,” Ross said in a news release. “We are very close to finishing the software and starting to test it. As we have said all along since the first competitive balance plan was proposed in 2011, this is a journey and we are all learning as we go.”

Competitive balance in athletics has been an issue for many years in Ohio. The OHSAA historically has divided teams into divisions for postseason tournaments based on the size of a school’s enrollment. The Completive Balance Plan will add additional modifying factors to enrollment counts based on each sport-specific roster, and is dependent upon where the student’s parents reside for public school students and/or the educational system history for private school students.

The OHSAA’s Competitive Balance Committee was formed in 2010 in response to a growing number of public schools that believed many private schools had an unfair advantage in postseason tournaments due to the larger geographic area from which private schools draw students. Public schools were concerned that the number of district, regional and state championships won by private schools is much higher than the percentage of private schools within the OHSAA membership. The same can be said for some open enrollment public schools that get students from a wide area.

Ross and his staff have been firm on their beliefs that public and private schools should continue to compete in tournaments together, though several administrators and coaches in the state have advocated for separate tournaments. A majority of member school principals voted to keep the schools together in a 2014 referendum vote.

The competitive balance plan affects only six multiple-division team sports — soccer, volleyball, football, basketball, baseball and softball.

Roster data in these sports will be entered into the system by schools during the 2016-2017 school year and will be used when schools are placed into divisions for the 2017-2018 school year using enrollment data from the Ohio Department of Education.

Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or mbeaven@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the #ABJVarsity high school blog at www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MBeavenABJ.