The Ohio High School Athletic Association will put another competitive balance proposal on the table in May, and it is time for the state nightmare to be done.
To the principals across the state: please pass the latest proposal. Is it perfect? Probably not, but nothing will be for more than 700 schools in Ohio.
Vote for this proposal. It is time for progress and stability. If the latest proposal fails, Armageddon — the decision to split the public and private schools — will be back on the ballot in 2014. That is a final resort few truly want.
“Status quo you had hoped would remain, but you knew that wasn’t going to happen,” said Newark Catholic principal Beth Hill, also an OHSAA board member. “This is one way. As simple as it is, you kind of look back over the past three years and think: ‘Why didn’t we think of this before?'”
This proposal — announced two weeks ago by the OHSAA and its board of directors — would place a multiplier on the athletic programs of schools, which use open enrollment athletes. For example: If a football team draws six or eight athletes from outside of its district, it might be in danger of moving up a division.
The proposal is similar to one that narrowly failed two years ago. In that proposal, additional components related to a program’s past success at the regional and state levels and a school’s number of free and reduced lunch students were added.
“That tradition factor was one of the big contentions,” Hill said. “What you teach in a school is to rise up and do your best and don’t look back when you know you are doing the right thing, and then you are penalized for it. The formula with the four measurements in it tried to look at everything you could. Sometimes, you just have to keep it simple.”
If passed, the implementation of the plan will not go into effect until the 2015-16 school year, and it will not be a moment too soon. At first and second glance, this proposal seems to respond to many of the criticisms of the old — and perhaps antiquated — system.
For example, Newark Catholic currently can draw any student from Licking and Knox counties. Those boundaries for the purpose of an athletic count will be limited considerably. It appears the Green Wave will be penalized for any athletes that do not live in Newark or in a pre-designated area.
If so, it would be more in line with districts such as Licking Valley or North Fork, who will be penalized for drawing athletes from outside their boundaries. With Heath’s recent decision to accept open enrollment students, only Granville and Southwest Licking are the local outliers, leveling the playing field among NC and its rival schools.
It simply is not an issue with private schools. The Columbus City Schools have a school choice program. If an athlete on the north side is deemed eligible to enroll at a south-side school, it appears that athlete will count toward an athletic program’s multiplier.
With anything, unintended consequences will pop up. The proposal currently only affects designated team sports. Sports such as track and cross country — where a small number of schools traditionally dominate — will not be affected.
Will open enrollment students be cut from rosters if coaches deem them expendable? Scheduling and preparation for coaches could be affected as their teams will not be assigned to divisions and regions until a few weeks into the competition season.
These issues, however, are minor compared to the alternative. Had a proposal to split public and private schools, litigation likely would have followed, and the end result could have been a complete split from the OHSAA.
That is a hassle the OHSAA wanted no part of. Many of the member schools did not either. Now, they have a chance to do something about it.
Kurt Snyder is a sports writer for The Newark Advocate.