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November 25, 2020

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OHSAA offers new proposal on separate tournament referendum

OHSAA, Petition Originator Agree to Alternative Proposal Regarding Separate Tournaments Referendum
Referendum to Separate OHSAA Tournaments into Public and Non-Public Schools Removed from Ballot; Replaced by Competitive Balance Proposal that Deals With Out-of-District Athletes

A petition that would have placed a referendum item on the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s (OHSAA) May ballot that called for all OHSAA tournaments to be conducted separately for public schools and non-public schools has been removed from the ballot, Commissioner Daniel B. Ross, Ph.D., has announced.

In its place, the OHSAA Board of Directors has approved a new competitive balance proposal that could place an addition onto a school’s initial enrollment count on a sport-by-sport basis (in team sports only) that is based on the number of students on a team’s roster who are from outside that school’s district or designated attendance zone.

The alternate proposal was approved when the OHSAA and the petition originator, together with representatives from his group, mutually worked to reach a resolution on the issue.

If passed, the new proposal would require schools to submit their rosters of student-athletes in grades 9 through 12 to the OHSAA office at a designated time and to further indicate how many of those students are from outside of the school’s district (for public school districts with one high school) or attendance zone (for non-public schools or public school districts with multiple high schools).

For non-public schools, this means indicating how many students’ residences are located outside the boundary of the same public school district or designated attendance zone in which the high school building is physically located. Affected sports will be football, soccer and volleyball in the fall, basketball in the winter and baseball and softball in the spring, with team wrestling to be considered in the future. Implementation of the new proposal, if adopted, will be for the 2015-16 school year.

“Some of the initial discussions by the original OHSAA Competitive Balance Committee included some of the same elements that are in this new proposal,” Ross said. “It is generally believed that in addition to the size of enrollment, students on a school’s team roster who are from outside that school’s geographic boundary or attendance zone does affect athletic success. So this concept is not something that is entirely new.

“The beauty of this new proposal is that all schools, public and non-public, would pass through the same filter when applying the new formula. In addition, the roster data that will be input by the member schools in this formula will be both objective and independently verifiable.

By approving this proposal, member schools will be authorizing our Board of Directors and staff to develop and test such a formula over the next two-plus years so that the exact factors added to a school’s enrollment and any kinks in the data entry, collection and final formulas can be worked out.

“I want to thank the administrators from Wayne Country who worked cooperatively on finding an alternative to separate tournaments and to the OHSAA Board of Directors for allowing the new proposal to be placed on the referendum ballot,” Ross said. “I truly believe the climate from the last vote on separating the tournaments has changed and this year’s vote would have come down to the wire. That being said, I alsp believe separation of the tournaments would have had many far-reaching ramifications that likely would have changed the landscape of interscholastic athletics in Ohio for years.”

The Basics of the New Competitive Balance Proposal

•  School initial enrollment counts for males and females as submitted to the Ohio Department of Education (EMIS numbers) will continue to be the beginning point for placing schools into their respective tournament divisions. Numbers will be collected by the OHSAA every other year as is the current practice.

•  At a designated deadline (most likely to be near the beginning of each sports season), each school will submit their team rosters to the OHSAA that will indicate each grade 9 through 12 student’s name, grade in school and district school of residence. Submission will take place through an online system as recommended by the Commissioner’s Office and approved by the OHSAA Board of Directors.

•  Every student on a team’s roster whose district of residence is outside of the district or attendance zone of the school he/she is attending will be multiplied by an out-of-district sports specific factor. That number will then be added to the school’s initial enrollment count. Public schools that do not accept open enrollment students would not be subject to an out-of-district sports specific factor, although tuition and international and exchange students would be subject to the factor.

• The sports specific factor will be applied on a sport-by-sport basis in the team sports of football, soccer, volleyball, basketball, baseball and softball (with the Board of Directors also considering use in the sport of wrestling for the team tournament). The factor will be different for each sport and be dependent upon the number of tournament divisions for that sport. A competitive balance committee representing the membership will study the formula and recommend the various out-of-district sports specific factors to the OHSAA Board of Directors. The current sports specific factors being considered are two for the sport of football and five for sports with four divisions (basketball, volleyball, baseball and softball).

•  The initial enrollment counts submitted to the Ohio Department of Education (EMIS numbers) will be used for two years, but schools will submit their roster data annually, meaning adjusted enrollment numbers and divisional assignments in the team sports mentioned will be recalculated annually.

• Schools that have an adjusted enrollment count that moves them into a higher division will not be limited to moving strictly into the next higher division.

•  Public and non-public schools that do not demonstrate a level of competitiveness in a given sport will not be subject to an out-of-district sports specific factor. A particular standard will be studied and recommended to the Board of Directors by the competitive balance committee that will determine whether or not a school is subject to the sports specific factor on a sport-by-sport basis.

•  Rosters will be posted online to help ensure that a “check and balance” system is in place and accurate data has been entered into the system by each school. The OHSAA will also utilize compliance monitors to assist with the process as needed.

•  Schools that fail to submit their school roster data by the designated deadline in a particular sport will be subject to penalties as determined by the OHSAA.

•  Schools will begin their seasons in the sports of football, soccer, volleyball, basketball, baseball and softball (and possibly team wrestling) not knowing to which OHSAA tournament division they have been assigned until approximately 30 days into the season in order for roster data to be submitted and validated, the computerized system to determine adjusted enrollment counts using the out-of-district sports specific factor and the OHSAA staff to complete tournament representation and tournament divisional dividing lines. Once that work is completed, OHSAA district athletic boards will also work to complete tournament assignments in a timely manner in the sports of soccer, volleyball, basketball, baseball and softball.

Initial Enrollment Count (from EMIS) +
Out-of-District Roster Number
(determined by multiplying the Out-of-District Sports Specific Factor by the
number of students on a particular sport’s roster who reside “outside the district”)  =
Adjusted Enrollment Count

                At the OHSAA Athletic Discussion Meetings that will be held at 14 sites next month in which the OHSAA administrative staff reviews the proposed referendum items, the new competitive balance proposal will be reviewed. The OHSAA will then provide the membership with the opportunity to ask questions about the proposal directly to Commissioner Dan Ross during webinars on a date or dates to be announced.

                Voting by high school principals on the 2013 referendum issues will take place between May 1 and 15. A majority vote is needed for a proposal to be adopted.

                Proposals that called for all OHSAA tournaments to be conducted separately for public schools and non-public schools that were generated through the petition process were defeated soundly in 1978 (83.9 percent to 16.1 percent) and 1993 (66.8 percent to 33.2 percent). Also, in the spring of both 2011 and 2012, the OHSAA membership narrowly defeated two similar competitive balance formulas for team sports that would have factored in school boundaries (how schools obtain students), socioeconomics (students on the free lunch program) and tradition (periods of success in tournaments on a sport-by-sport basis) into a school’s enrollment.

Those proposals were recommended by an OHSAA Competitive Balance Committee and placed on the referendum ballot by the OHSAA Board of Directors. The 2011 proposal was defeated 332 to
303 (52.3 percent to 47.7 percent), while the 2012 proposal was defeated 339 to 301 (53 percent to 47 percent).