The most staggering development from Thursday’s voting results on the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s referendum items was how many schools did not vote.
Despite a couple of proposals that could have brought significant change to the OHSAA, about 20 percent of the more than 800 member schools did not submit a vote on anything. In all, 164 schools did not vote, 27 ballots arrived late and four were marked invalid and not counted.
That is unacceptable. One of the referendum issues, the competitive balance proposal that failed 327-308, single-handedly could have changed the OHSAA by implementing a multiplier to be added to a school’s enrollment for any student on a roster outside that school’s home district. The result of that failing probably is a vote for the split between public and private schools in postseason tournaments, with the fate of that likely being determined in 2014.
A proposal for significant changes to the OHSAA’s transfer rules passed, meaning students transferring schools no longer will have to sit out a full year of competition. Major debates have raged in the state for years about those issues, and it’s unbelievable the number of schools that were careless or indifferent when it came to acting about them.
“I thought that was pretty important,” Berne Union athletic director Jon Parker said. “(Competitive balance) was one of the most important things we’ve voted on in a while. That many people letting it go, that’s too bad.”
Sending in a late ballot is no excuse, either. Principals have two weeks to vote, and it takes only a few minutes to fill out the ballot.
I talked with a handful of area athletic directors who said their schools voted, but there isn’t exactly a benefit to admitting otherwise. Voting is not mandatory. In a teleconference Thursday, commissioner Dan Ross said the OHSAA will not release a list of schools that voted or how they voted.
In the schools’ defense, voting turnout in the past three years — each of which has had a competitive balance proposal up for vote — has been close to 80 percent, OHSAA spokesperson Tim Stried said during the teleconference. In other years, only about 67 percent of schools have voted on referendum items.
But that number has to be higher. Ross tossed around the idea of adding a rule to the OHSAA constitution and bylaws making it mandatory for member schools to vote on referendum items. That is a proposal Bloom-Carroll athletic director Chad Little said he would support.
“I thought the most disappointing part was how many schools didn’t vote,” Little said. “That’s embarrassing.”
If nothing else, the OHSAA should hold schools accountable for not voting by publishing those results. That would eliminate arguments from any administrators who might complain about the status quo but refuse to address it with their votes.
If Ross and the OHSAA Board of Directors wanted, any competitive balance adjustment could be imposed as a sport regulation. But Ross said he did not want to do that with such an important issue.
“This is such an important issue that I think it’s one our member schools should have a say in how it’s dealt with,” Ross said.
Ross, who was not shy in saying how much he wanted competitive balance to pass, has left the future of the OHSAA up to the member schools. It is their responsibility to participate.