For the third straight year, a competitive balance referendum proposed by the Ohio High School Athletic Association has failed.
By a vote of 327-308, the proposed competitive balance referendum was rejected by the 826 member schools of the OHSAA.
"When this new proposal was placed on the ballot, we said at the time that the vote would come down to the wire, and it certainly did," OHSAA commissioner Dr. Daniel B. Ross said. "It's disappointing that it did not pass because we believed this formula addressed the main issue to which schools voiced concern: the impact on athletic success by students on a school's team roster who are from outside that school's geographic boundary or attendance zone.
"As everyone is aware, this is the third year in a row a competitive balance proposal has been narrowly defeated. I will be consulting with our Board of Directors to see what action, if any, we take next, but I anticipate at a minimum that a proposal on separate tournaments for public and non-public schools will again be placed on the ballot next spring via the petition process."
The separation of public and non-public schools was the original item on the May ballot after a group of superintendents from the Wooster area collected enough signatures to put the proposal to a vote. Then, in a sudden turn of events, it was announced on March 23 that the superintendents pulled the proposal in favor of the competitive balance proposal.
If it were to have passed,the competitive balance referendum called for the examination of all athletes on a given roster, whether at a public or private school, to see where the student-athlete resided. From there, it would be determined how many players on the roster lived in the school district for public schools or attendance zone for private schools. For all athletes that lived outside those areas, they would be assigned a multiplier number to add on to their already based enrollment figure. The school would then add the total of the multiplier to their original enrollment number to get what their final enrollment count would be. That final number would have determined what division that school competed in during tournaments.
Enrollment was the only factor in this competitive balance proposal. The previous two proposals considered other factors, such as geography and team history. The other two votes were voted down by a slightly wider margin -339-301 in 2012 and 332-303 in 2011.
Eighty-one percent of the eligible schools voted on this year's May ballot. Out of the 826 schools that were sent ballots, 191 did not vote. Out of the 191, four ballots were invalid and 27 did not meet the May 15 deadline.
"If there's any school that doesn't vote, that's too many for me," Ross said. "It is disappointing, because this is a very important issue."
This was one of nine issues on the May ballot. A measure that did pass was a significant change to the OHSAA transfer bylaw rule. The new measure, which passed by a vote of 346-288, reduces the penalty for transfer athletes from one year to the first 50 percent of the maximum allowable regular-season contests in any sport in which the student participated in the previous year. Also, if a student transfers, they can play a sport immediately as long as it wasn't played at their former school the previous year.
Though the competitive balance issue has failed, by no means is the issue going to go away. Ross said it is very likely that a new competitive balance propsoal - as well as the separation of public and non-public school tournaments - could both appear on next May's ballot.
"We're going to do a survey of our member schools, especially because it was so close," Ross said. "Then, we are going to take the information from the survey and get our competitive balance committee back together and let them review the results of that. We'll look at those results and see if there's something they want to tweak or work on. And then make a recommendation to the Board of Directors either in probably August or September then we'll see where that piece goes.
"In conversations with the group that has promoted the separation of tournament issue, that that issue is still on the table. It is still an option that is still out there."