Another critical vote on competitive balance came and went this month.
Like every other time, the Ohio High School Athletic Association and its member schools sit still. The OHSAA has added a division in football for the first time since 1994 for next fall, but competitive balance is commissioner Dan Ross’ big fish.
Ross says too many schools want change for it not to happen. Only about 37 percent of high school principals, however, voted for his committee’s latest proposal. That is far too low of a percentage for something that effectively will be a historic change.
The vote still was only narrowly defeated by 19 votes — 327-308 — because close to 25 percent of the state either did not vote or did not have their vote count because of procedural error. If Ross wants to be remembered as the commissioner who helped change the landscape of high school sports in Ohio, he must get his membership on board.
Immediate reactions to the number of principals who did not vote were of surprise and bewilderment. I tweeted the numbers were “inexcusable” and “embarrassing.” Many of my colleagues, school administrators and fans expressed similar feelings.
“Dereliction of duty comes to mind,” Licking Valley principal Wes Weaver said. “It is unconscionable to me. I don’t know how I could explain to my boss or the board or the community on something that important.”
While the OHSAA said a higher percentage voted this year than on most referendum items, the still staggering number of no-shows immediately raised eyebrows. In his first press conference after the vote, Ross was peppered with questions about mandating votes.
Ross said the OHSAA has little it can do. If he wanted to shame his members, he could release the votes, and chances are it would be the final time many of those principals failed to vote during the two-week period.
If Ross wants to go the ethical route, he said the OHSAA could look at amending its bylaws. The OHSAA has not been afraid to fine schools in the past for its coaches’ infractions. Maybe principals should be treated the same way.
It is the biggest hurdle Ross faces. Ross suggested his competitive balance committee might go back to the drawing board. At least, it is expected that competitive balance proponents again will petition for a vote on the splitting of the public and private state tournaments.
That is not an outcome most seem to want. Until, a majority of schools, however, vote for something different, status quo appears to be the only option.