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Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

Competitive balance proposal fails

By Ryan Hines
Compiled by Ryan Hines
COLUMBUS - Ohio school administrators have narrowly voted down a referendum designed to level the postseason playing field between public and private schools in eight sports.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association said Tuesday the measure fell by a margin of 332-303 (52 percent to 48 percent).
"As most of our school administrators and coaches are aware, this change was recommended by an OHSAA Competitive Balance Committee, and we believe this would have been a fairer way to assign schools in team sports to their tournament divisions," said OHSAA Commissioner Dan Ross in a press release. "We also stressed to the membership that this was just a starting point for change since a companion OHSAA Sports Regulation would have allowed the Board of Directors to make modifications over time as a standing committee on competitive balance made recommendations.
"Our Board of Directors will have to provide direction on whether to reconvene the OHSAA Competitive Balance Committee to review other 'competitive balance' options, so I cannot speculate on whether or not that possibility exists. At the same time, we're also hearing that discussions to file a petition may be taking place by some member schools that are seeking to separate our tournaments totally between public schools and non-public schools. Again, whether that occurs or not, it's too early to tell."
A competitive balance proposal was felt necessary by some in part after the Delphos St. John's football team defeated Shadyside 77-6 in the Division VI state football final this past fall.
Had the proposal passed, divisions in football and baseball, girls volleyball and softball and boys and girls soccer and basketball tournaments would not have been based strictly on enrollment, as they are now.
Coldwater's athletic director Eric Goodwin was happy the vote didn't pass.
"We are obvious very happy at Coldwater that it went down and are happy for all of Ohio High School sports that it did not pass," said Goodwin. "Although something needs to be done, the competitive balance proposal did not address either concern. Number one, recruiting (public or private) and number two, Enrollment difference in Division I."
A school's division would have been decided by factors including added enrollment based on expanded boundaries, a socioeconomic factor and athletic tradition factor (teams that had reached the state tournament or regional finals would have been considered to be a school with higher enrollment).
The OHSAA came up with the formula to make more schools competitive.
"I think the close vote relays a message that schools are concerned about what is taking place with schools and recruiting. This is something we don't understand in Northwest Ohio compared to other part of the states. Just as they don't understand how we operate compared to their schools. I had a principal two weeks ago from a school up north tell me that we draw all kinds of kids at Coldwater to play football because we are successful at it. I told him we have had one open enrollment student ever to play football at Coldwater, and he came to Coldwater in the sixth grade," said Goodwin. "This principal just doesn't understand that kids around here don't go from school to school to play sports. When I explained it to him, his response was we might need to start winning more games during the regular season. I told him to try and play our schedule in football."
The issue can still be revisited, since a petition signed by 75 school principals, including a minimum of five within each of the six OHSAA athletic districts, would prompt a revote in a year.
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