Competitive balance on OHSAA spring referendum ballot

By JAMIE BAKER
SPORTS EDITOR
The Ohio High School Athletic Association is set to take another crack at yet another competitive balance proposal this spring.
On Monday, the OHSAA Board of Directors unanimously approved a competitive balance proposal that makes changes in how schools are placed in tournaments in team sports. The plan, recommended unanimously to the Board by the 27-member OHSAA Competitive Balance Committee, is similar to the proposal that member schools voted upon last spring. The proposal next will go before OHSAA school principals for final approval during the organization’s referendum period May 1-15.
“We surveyed principals last fall and asked them how we could make the competitive balance proposal better. We could try and make it better, or not do anything at all,” OHSAA commissioner Daniel Ross, Ph.D., said during a conference call Tuesday.
“The principals said that competitive balance was the No. 1 issue.
“Over the past two weeks, the committee finalized the new plan. We had a meeting with the Board of Directors by phone and they approved the plan unanimously to go forward.”
If approved, the new proposal will require schools to provide the OHSAA with team rosters of student athletes in grades 9 through 12 as well as additional residential background information about each student. Students in public schools will be subject to modifying factors if their parents do not reside in the district or if the student has not been continuously enrolled in the district since seventh grade. Additionally, students in non-public schools will be subject to the same modifying factors if they did not attend that school’s designated “feeder” school(s) continuously since seventh grade or have not been continuously enrolled in the same system of education.
The new proposal would be applied in football, soccer, volleyball, basketball, baseball and softball.
The plan likely would go into effect during the 2016-17 school year, although Ross said there probably would be a test of the new system in 2015.
The new rules would work slightly differently for three types of schools: public school districts with one high school, private schools and school districts with multiple high schools.
For public districts with a single high school, children whose parents live in the district would not add to the school’s enrollment figure. Athletes on a high school’s roster in grades 9-12 whose parents do not live in the district but have been enrolled in the district since seventh grade will add one point to the enrollment count. Athletes whose parents don’t live in the district and transfer to the school after seventh grade or beyond will be subject to a sports specific factor depending on the sport.
Football would add two points to the enrollment figure for each athlete that fits in the third category. Basketball, baseball, volleyball and softball would add five and soccer would add six to a school’s sport-specific enrollment figure.
Private schools have the choice of which feeder school or parishes to count where their students come from.
As long as their students were enrolled in the private school’s feeder school since seventh grade they wouldn’t add to the school’s enrollment count.
If a student-athlete attended another private school since the seventh grade it would add one to the school’s enrollment count.
Student-athletes on their rosters that attended a different private school from the seventh grade and beyond would be subject to the OHSAA’s sport specific factor.
The new system can be illustrated by using hypothetical numbers for a private school like Fostoria St. Wendelin with, for example, 30 girls in grades 9-12 on its volleyball roster and a total female enrollment of 100.
If 20 of those volleyball players came from St. Wendelin’s primary feeder school, its own elementary, those athletes would not increase the school’s enrollment number.
If five players came from Findlay St. Michael or Carey Our Lady of Consolation and were enrolled in those schools since seventh grade, they would be multiplied by one. If the other five players on the roster did not attend a Catholic school beginning in seventh grade, they would be multiplied times five.
The total would put St. Wendelin’s hypothetical enrollment number for volleyball at 130.
For public school districts with multiple high schools, athletes whose parents reside in the high school’s attendance zone would not add anything to the school’s enrollment number. Athletes whose parents live in the district but outside the school’s attendance zone would add one to the enrollment total and athletes whose parents live outside the district would be subject to the OHSAA’s sports specific factor.
The formula on could be changed or adjusted by a vote of member schools, which is a new wrinkle in this year’s proposal.
Competitive balance referendums, which aim to correct a perceived imbalance, particularly between public and private schools in Ohio and specifically in the football playoffs and post-season tournament play, have been voted down by the school principals each of the past three years.
A 2011 proposal relying on enrollment, tradition and socioeconomic factors was defeated 332-303. The following year, a similar proposal also lost by a narrow 339-301 margin.
Last year’s competitive balance plan voted on by the OHSAA’s 823 member schools during the organization’s referendum period last May was defeated 327-308.
The 2013 plan was put together in March after a deal was struck to remove a referendum item that would have separated public and private schools in many OHSAA tournaments.
This plan is even better than last year’s according to Ross, who believes that this one finally could be a winner.
“I absolutely believe that this is better. Last year was a whole lot better than our previous proposals,” Ross said. “Last year’s proposal was coming right after they took off the item to split, and anything was better than that. Everyone on our committee and our board agrees, it was unanimous, they think that this is the best option so far.”
Baker, 419-427-8409
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