Wooster Triway Superintendent Dave Rice was disappointed that, for the third year in a row, member principals in the Ohio High School Athletic Association voted down a competitive balance proposal.
This proposal would have taken into account athletes who play for a school but don’t live within the school’s boundaries, and use that as a multiplier to add to enrollment numbers to determine a school’s divisional alignment. OHSAA Commissioner Dan Ross said the measure failed by a vote of 327-308. A total of 191 schools didn’t vote, four turned in invalid ballots and 27 ballots were turned in after the deadline, Ross said.
“It seemed like a good option,” Rice said.
The measure voted on replaced a public-private tournament split put on the ballot by Rice and opposed by the OHSAA. And now, Rice plans to circulate petitions again to get a public-private tournament split on the ballot next year.
“This time, it won’t be pulled,” Rice said. “If it gets on the ballot, it will go for a vote.”
If the measure gets on the ballot, it will be the third time the OHSAA voted on split tournaments, with the previous two, in 1978 and 1994, failing significantly. Rice said the split would be for team tournaments in football, volleyball, soccer, basketball, baseball and softball. His previous petition was for a split in all team tournaments, which led to concerns that some sports with fewer teams — like hockey and gymnastics — would be unable to hold split tournaments.
St. Joseph Central Catholic Principal Tim Cullen appreciated this proposal, saying it addressed enrollment at private and public schools.
“I give them credit for trying to find a proposal that gave weight to schools with open enrollment,” he said.
SJCC is currently in the smallest division in every sport in which it participates, and Cullen anticipates that shy of a public-private split, it will remain unaffected.
“In our situation, no matter what they configure, I’m not sure that it’ll have any effect on us,” he said.
Woodmore principal Jim Kieper said he was surprised that the public-private split was taken off the ballot. Rice realizes that’s a fairly common reaction, and said he’d like to find a co-sponsor for a new referendum item.
“I’m sure I lost some credibility by pulling the measure,” he said.
In the meantime, Ross said member principals would be surveyed, and the competitive balance committee would be reactivated. That committee, which included Rice, was formed by the OHSAA after a 2010 survey revealed a perception of a competitive imbalance, with non-public schools winning a disproportionate amount of titles. The competitive balance committee came up with a formula taking into account athletic tradition, socioeconomics and school boundaries that would be added to enrollment numbers for divisional alignment. That formula was voted down twice by member principals.
Ross hopes a recommendation will be made to the board of directors in August or September.
“We’re very close,” Ross said. “We’re not at the tipping point yet, but we’re close.”
Ross said if the OHSAA board of directors wanted to, it could impose any type of competitive balance adjustment as a sports regulation. But he said that probably wouldn’t be the best move for its members.
“This is such an important issue that our member schools need to have a voice in how this is changed,” he said.