Prep sports: OHSAA makes local pitch for competitive balance proposal


BLUFFTON — Too complex.

Too rushed.

Those are a couple reasons Ohio High School Athletic Association Commissioner Daniel Ross attributes to three failures of competitive balance proposals in recent years.

“Last year, the proposal was rushed,” Ross said Tuesday at The Centre in Bluffton during a meeting with northwestern Ohio school administrators. “There was a proposal to separate state tournaments between public and private schools, and that was taken off the ballot at the boys state basketball championship.

“That gave us between the end of March and the beginning of the voting process on May 1 to explain the proposal. It wasn’t enough time.”

This year, Ross thinks a fourth proposal is much simpler, much cleaner.

The referendum will be voted on May 1-15 by high school principals across the state. It’s an attempt to rectify what the OHSAA perceives as an unfair advantage private schools hold on their public school counterparts in team sports.

If passed, the proposal would take effect in the 2016-17 school year.

Gone from previous proposals are hard to define concepts such as socio-economic factors and weights placed on a school’s tradition of success. A major change from last year’s proposal lowers the penalty for open enrollment students who have attended a school outside their home district for a number of years.

“Superintendents told us they consider those ‘our’ kids,” Ross said.

The only thing that counts now is where a student’s home is in relation to the school he or she attends. The base number to decide a school’s division remains its enrollment in grades 9-11 — the EMIS number.

For public schools, students residing in their own school district carry no penalty. Open enrollment students who were at a school outside their own district since before the seventh grade will have an enrollment penalty weight of 1.

Those who open enroll after seventh grade will incur a sports specific penalty: For soccer, 6; football, 2; baseball, softball, volleyball, and boys and girls basketball, 5. Wrestling, which now has a team dual meet state tournament, is yet to be determined.

An example: A public school has a grade 9-11 enrollment of 100 and has 40 football players on its high school roster. Of those 40 players, 30 are in-district residents, five open enrolled before the seventh grade and five after.

Those 30 in-district players would raise the EMIS count by a factor of 0; the five who open enrolled before seventh grade would raise the count by a factor of 1 (5 total); and the remaining player who open enrolled after seventh grade by a factor of 2 (10 total).

So, the team would have an adjusted EMIS number of 115. That would, in this instance, jump the program from Division VII to Division VI.

Non-public schools will be able to choose their “feeder” school that would act as their base.

Students coming into St. Wendelin from its elementary school, for example, will count toward the EMIS number by a factor of 0. Students coming from another Catholic elementary school, for example St. Michael in Findlay, would have a factor of 1. Students coming into St. Wendelin from a non-Catholic school, for example Fostoria City Schools, would be subject to the sport-specific penalty.

The response from school administrators has been positive to the latest proposal, Ross said.

“This is the third of our four meetings we at the OHSAA will have with member schools, and we’ve heard nothing negative,” Ross said. “We’ve had people say this is the easiest formula to work with, and we’ve had people thank us for addressing their concerns that the previous proposals were difficult to understand.”

Radick, 419-427-8405,
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