COLUMBUS — On the fourth attempt, the Ohio High School Athletic Association announced Friday that its member schools have passed a competitive balance plan designed to improve the fairness of state tournament play.
The plan, which will become effective during the 2016-17 school year, was approved by the membership after three similar proposals were narrowly defeated between 2011 and 2013.
After a total of 820 ballots were mailed to member schools in late April, 737 were returned for a voter turnout of 90 percent. It passed 411 votes to 323 (56 percent to 44 percent, with three ballots abstaining).
The plan may be most beneficial to teams from public schools below the Division I level.
“I want to thank the membership for having the confidence in this plan and voting to move forward with implementation,” OHSAA commissioner Dan Ross said. “While passing the plan was a major step and truly exciting, our work is just beginning since the competitive balance committee will continue to clarify any unanswered questions, and our staff will put all the wheels in motion to finalize the electronic roster collection system.”
This plan is expected to, for the time being, end a push from some OHSAA member schools to have separate state tournaments for public and private schools.
“I’d love to say that it would absolutely for sure do that, but I don’t know that,” Ross said. “But, what I do know is that the group that was pushing for the split [public and private tournaments], if this proposal passed, they were not going to be pushing for a split.
“They were going to drop that push and see how it works. That doesn’t mean somebody else couldn’t do it, but I am not aware that anyone else is. I am really relieved that we don’t have a split. We are not supporters of separate tournaments, and we do not believe that it’s good for the kids in Ohio.”
The plan includes a formula for determining a school’s adjusted enrollment count as it pertains to divisional breakdowns for tournament competition in several designated sports.
All schools — public and private — will be subject to the factors of the formula, which will be applied to students in the sports of football, soccer, and volleyball in the fall, basketball in the winter, and baseball and softball in the spring.
All schools would use a formula to determine their adjusted enrollment count, which for some schools would require an elevation to a higher division.
“This plan is similar to last year’s, but this version is the result of a compilation of input from our superintendents, principals, athletic administrators, and coaches,” Ross said. “I’m most proud that we were able to work together and come up with a solution that will create a better system than we currently have, because it looks at how schools secure the enrollment of their students participating in interscholastic athletics.”
In addition to the size of a school’s enrollment, the OHSAA’s competitive balance plan will have new modifying factors that will be applied to students on each roster on a sport-by-sport basis, and are based on where the student’s parents reside and/or the educational system history of the student.
Any student on the school’s roster for that sport (grades 9-12) counts toward the formula as a Level 0, Level 1, or Level 2, based on whether their parents reside within or outside of a given school district, or whether the student came to that high school from a feeder school.
Private schools will get to designate one feeder school, and students who come from that school are a Level 0, and thus would not increase the enrollment count.
Each sport to which the plan applies also has an assigned multiplier number which increases that school’s adjusted enrollment count. The football factor is 2, soccer is factor 6, and the other sports have a factor of 4.
The OHSAA will have a team of compliance monitors to check on rosters and work with the schools to make sure they are accurate. This regulation will rely on schools being accurate with their counts and following the regulation.