Competitive balance notes to keep in mind

Just after 1 p.m. on Friday, May 16, athletics in the state of Ohio moving forward were to never be the same – and many are wondering if it is a good or a bad thing.

At that time, the Ohio High School Athletic Association released that the competitive balance measure – the fourth attempt at it – had finally passed, this time by a vote of 411-323.

Some people have pointed out the good parts of it – one being that the road can finally begin to try and find a balance when it comes to tournament play. Some have pointed out what they feel as bad – a specific example being that if schools aren’t afraid of “playing up” then they will (as much as the rules will let them) bring in more open enrollment students and stack the deck.

No matter what side of the issue you’re on, you can think whatever you want, but competitive balance is here, and in three years it will be a reality.

OHSAA commissioner Daniel B. Ross, Ph.D., said on Friday that the measure will go into effect for the 2016-17 school year, giving 2015-16 to be the pilot year (which is the next year that the enrollment numbers are retabulated by the state).

While many can find reasons to hate it or love it, there are some tidbits as a part of the new plan that should make some people feel better about the coming years:

DIVISION I: One part that many are wondering is what will happen with Division I. For the most part, the new referendum has no effect on them.

For Division I, no matter how many open enrollment students they have (or out of the system kids for parochial schools), there is nowhere to go but up. For conspiracy theorists, many think this will only encourage Division I schools to go out and “get kids” within the means of the rules to make sure they are competitive with some of the top schools in the state.

Secondly, schools at the bottom end of Division I are still at a disadvantage. In football, much of that problem was alleviated with the creation of the seventh division – now making Division I for schools with enrollment of 608 or more. But for four-division sports such as boys basketball, a school with an enrollment of 370 is considered Division I. That’s a big difference when you’re facing a team such as Cincinnati St. Xavier – the biggest school in the state – with a boys enrollment of 1,181.

Ross said he and his committee are now going to meet and figure out what is best to help out the top enrollment tier in the state.

“We have some ADs and some coaches and principals that are in the bottom end of D-I… if it’s basketball or some of the other four-division sports, they believe that there could be some things that could be done. Honestly, we’re not looking to add divisions.

“Adding a division may not be the answer to this. They feel that there might be some different ways to classify schools, classify tournament divisions. We most certainly are willing to sit down with them and listen.”

IT’S A STARTING POINT: If anyone was on the conference call with Ross after Friday’s announcement, there was one thing everyone was made very clear of – this is a starting point.

“Any time you put anything in place there is always things that are going to come up that you didn’t think about,” Ross said “What we will do, we are going to bring the committee back together and keep them together and when we run across those things, the committee will deal with those.”

Ross also pointed out that when these issues arise – and there will be issues that will come up – that nothing will change in the formula until the schools take a vote and agree upon the change or amendment.

“The schools appreciate that if there is going to be a change in the formula – any change that wants to be made in the formula – it goes back to the schools for a vote. So they are going to control those changes. They are going to have input in the changes.”

For the people that are against it, rest assured that this is not etched in stone, but just a start to something we all know needs fixed in the state.

We will all see in three years.