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OHSAA plan more about its budget

A flexible regular-season schedule of at least six games with expanded high school football playoffs is the new plan. The Ohio High School Athletic Association lost its spring sports season and, more importantly, the winter sports postseason because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Money was lost by the OHSAA. According to the organization’s financial statements ending the 2018-19 school year, the basketball state tournament amassed $843,041, track and field was $575,216, state wrestling was $532,094 and girls state basketball was $456,135. Those are the second through fifth top moneymakers for the OHSAA, the governing body for member schools in Ohio.

Those net numbers are for the regional and state tournaments combined.

The OHSAA states 78 percent of its revenue comes from ticket sales at tournaments.

You’d better believe the organization was all about a playoff system in which all teams could participate after a six-week season. New regions will be determined in September.

All of this is a money grab by the OHSAA. Yes, it provides a season, but it ensures the financial stability of the organization, which needs a cash influx in the worst way possible this fall.

It was a move made without the consultation of the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association, which did make proposal guidelines to Gov. Mike DeWine’s office and the OHSAA for football to be played. The OHSFCA’s seat at this table was placed way outside the I-270 loop around Columbus.

“We were not consulted,” OHSFCA president Tom Pavlansky said. “This presents a challenge. The plan is well-intentioned. This does create more questions, more challenges for our coaches and for our member schools in terms of scheduling.

“The coaches association, as in our proposal, remains eager to work with the governor’s office and the OHSAA to ensure a responsible fall season.”

During the 2018-19 season, the OHSAA earned $1,932,333 from the football state tournament in their net earnings. That accounts for about a large bulk of the money from state tournaments in 2018-19. You better believe the OHSAA needs this football season, more like the postseason, to happen. If not, financial trouble is afoot for the organization.

Locally, teams are scrambling to readjust their schedules. How does this affect the current game contracts, especially non-conference opponents?

According to the OHSAA, “at this time, all regular-season contracts are voidable for football. Bylaw 7-1-7 indicates that acts of God, force majeure, or similar circumstances gives both the schools and the OHSAA the ability to make game contracts voidable.”

What happens to out-of-league rivalries, which are a local moneymaker for schools? Area schools need this football season to happen for their own financial well being.

Canfield and Poland were supposed to play Week 1. Howland was slated to play rival Niles. Howland and Canfield are independent teams, trying to scramble for opponents. Neither one has a league. The same goes for Harding, Fitch, Kennedy and Boardman.

The playoffs start Oct. 9 and go until Nov. 21. Teams do not have to participate in the postseason, it is optional. Teams can play a 10-game schedule from Aug. 24 until Nov. 14.

Leagues like the Northeast-8 and Mahoning Valley Athletic Conference have established league-only schedules.

If your team and a non-conference opponent are no longer in the playoff picture, you can play each other until Nov. 14. But really, isn’t that more of a scrimmage at that point?

The bigger picture is how do athletic directors and school administrators move forward with this being thrown in their laps on a Friday afternoon?

Schedules are fluid, just like everything else in this confusing era of the COVID-19 pandemic. I didn’t know the word fluid could be such a derogatory word.

The whole six-game plan is like a house of cards at this point with the Ohio Department of Health, unless it changes its collective mind about spectators at games. How many will there be allowed if there are any? Local schools rely on ticket income as much as the OHSAA.

Contact sports can practice, but are they going to have a season even after the Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences canceled their fall seasons?

The OHSAA said in a memo to its member schools: “It should be noted (and as previously communicated) that school vs. school competition in football (and the other contact sports of soccer and field hockey) will not move forward unless the Ohio Director of Health’s order is amended.”

The OHSAA and member schools can make plans, but it seems no one gets any funding this year without the ODH’s stamp of approval for contact sports.

That, like everything, is a fluid situation.

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