OHSAA doing best to get competitive balance right

COLUMBUS – The Ohio High School Athletic Association often gets a bad rap because many times it is the policeman of Ohio high school sports. They have to make rules, try to enforce those rules, and often, like police, no matter what they do, it is wrong.

However, with the announcement of the new competitive-balance proposal, it seems as if the OHSAA got this one right. Well, for some people. Because in today’s world, there is no way to make everyone happy.

On Friday at the boys state basketball tournament, it was announced that a new competitive-balance referendum will be voted on in May by the 826 member schools of the OHSAA. The vote on the referendum will take the place of the originally scheduled vote to separate public and private schools into different postseason tournaments.

The public-private separation issue was originally started by a group of superintendents in Wayne County. Triway Superintendent Dave Rice, one of the catalysts behind the petition, said in front of a group of media members on Friday that though they brought the separation issue to the table, it was never their ultimate goal to separate the tournaments. But he knew that some issue needed to be brought up to make the playing field equal for everyone.

This is what the OHSAA came up with:?

For public schools, the formula will begin with the original enrollment of the school district. Then, teams are required to turn in rosters to the OHSAA. Based on the players on the roster from grades nine through 12, it will be figured which students live in the district and which students come from outside the district. For every player who does not live in the school district, a multiplier number to be determined later will be factored in to the total number of players from outside the district. After the number is calculated – players times multiplier – it will become the new enrollment figure assigned to the team.

For private schools, the formula stays the same, but instead of the school district being applied, the players who are to be multiplied are ones who live out of the attendance zone. For example, any John F. Kennedy player who lives in the Warren school district would not be given a multiplier. If an athlete who attends JFK were to live in any other school district, that player would be put into the multiplier category.

The multiplier number will differ for each sport. For football, the number will likely be set at two due to the roster size. For basketball, the smallest team sport, the number will be set at five. The other sports will have a number between the two-and-five range.

So, if a basketball roster, from freshman through varsity, has 30 players on it and 25 live in the school district, the other five players will be multiplied by five to equal 25. If the school has an original enrollment of 200, the new enrollment number would be 225.

In some cases, it will bump schools up a division. Some schools it will leave them in the exact same position. But no matter what, it’s at least an attempt to level the playing field for all schools.

The biggest example of the need for a competitive balance issue to be in effect is the case of Villa Angela-St. Joseph, which won the Division IV state title on Saturday.

Their roster, which features two senior players who are committed to Division I colleges and a freshman who is on every Division I coach’s radar, could possibly be the most loaded team in the entire tournament, and the school boasts a total of 105 boys in their enrollment numbers.

This year, to be a Division III school, an institution needed to have 123 boys. Therefore, if six players on this VA-SJ team, freshman through varsity, lived outside the VA-SJ attendance zone, which is Collinwood, they would have been bumped up to Division III – and probably won a state title their as well.

There are so many more factors to take into consideration. Open enrollment with public schools is the major one, and from there it can snow ball. There are many pros and cons, and many will formulate arguments until the vote in May.

It will be interesting to see how this unfolds over the next month or so – then if passed, over the next few years. Is it perfect? No. Will it please everyone? No. Is it the best solution that anyone can think of? Yes. Will it pass? Only time will tell – and we will all have the answer in six weeks.