Competitive Balance issue goes down again

A revised Competitive Balance Proposal was voted down by Ohio High School Athletic Association members for the third straight year on Thursday.

The proposal would have adjusted a school’s numerical value based on students who reside outside its designated school district. That number would determine which divisions a school’s teams would be assigned for the postseason.

The proposal was voted down 327-308, or 51.5 to 48.5 percent, the closest of the three votes. Member principals voted from May 1-15. A majority vote was needed to pass the proposal, which would have been implemented in the fall of 2015.

It was a revised referendum that replaced an original proposal that would have separated public and private schools in the postseason. That was seen as too drastic a change. It also prompted many private schools – especially Catholic – to vow to leave the OHSAA if it passed.

OHSAA Commissioner Dr. Dan Ross said the issue likely will continue to be addressed.

“We knew that the Competitive Balance issue would be close … because this is a very passionate issue,” he said in a statewide media conference call Thursday.

“It’s disappointing that it did not pass because we believed this formula addressed the main issue to which schools voiced concern.”

It was one of nine OHSAA constitution and bylaw revisions that member principals voted on, only two of which failed.

Among those to pass was a bylaw to reduce a transfer penalty to 50 percent of a season in a sport that a student had already participated in. That same student would be immediately eligible for an entire season of a sport that he did not previously play.

That proposal passed 346-288 and is effective June 1. Previously, a transfer student would be athletically ineligible for an entire school year.

The Competitive Balance Proposal was the key issue. It also failed 339-301 in 2012 and 332-303 in 2011.

This time it was tweaked as to where students resided. All private schools would share their neighboring public school district boundary. Any student who resided outside that area would count against a school’s numerical formula that determines its division.

The multiplier for students living outside a school district would be based on a sliding scale from 2-5.

Every school’s numerical value would start with its Education Management Information System count. The EMIS value is derived from a data collection. All Ohio primary and secondary schools are assigned this. That final EMIS count would determine which divisions schools would be placed in the postseason for football, soccer, volleyball, basketball, baseball and softball.

Instead, schools will continue to be classified in divisions by male and female total enrollment only.

About 81 percent of the member principals voted; 191 did not. Twenty-seven ballots were discounted because they were submitted after deadline. Four were declared invalid.

The OHSAA will not offer a breakdown of voting, such as who didn’t vote, who voted for what and how the many divisions were represented in voting results.

Ross indicated there were two major factors that might have hindered the proposal from passing. The timing was relatively brief. A proposal to vote separating public from private schools for the postseason was bumped in March by this revised referendum. He said that he heard from many school administrators who indicated that wasn’t enough time to thoroughly address such a complex issue.

Also, had it passed, it still would not have affected Division I schools. That was addressed in football with the creation of a seventh division, a super Division I, that kicks in this fall.

The top 10 percent of schools with the highest enrollments – 72 – would be lumped in the new D-I for football. The rest of the six divisions will have 120 members each.

“That’s the one piece to this that’s a nemesis,” Dr. Ross said. “We heard from some schools who said they were going to vote against this issue because it didn’t help them.

“I don’t know on the top end of Division I how you deal with that because there’s no farther to go up. If you’re on the bottom end of Division I you’d be affected by this. Helping someone on the top end of Division I, I would love to have the answer to that.”

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