Jan 14, 2011
Proposal To Shake Up Ohio H.S. Playoffs

For years, Ohio High School Athletic Association officials have heard complaints that parochial schools have an unfair advantage in state high-school championships.

Yesterday, commissioner Dan Ross and the OHSAA took the first steps toward a system that, while confusing, could help bring balance to the state-tournament system in eight sports by changing how teams are assigned to divisions.

The group’s Board of Directors voted 9-0 to submit a proposed bylaw to a vote of the 829 member schools in May.

Currently, schools are classified solely according to their enrollment. If a majority of schools approve, teams will be divided according to an “athletic count” formula based on enrollment and adjusted according to three other factors – a school’s boundary area (including open enrollment), its socioeconomic status and recent postseason performance in each sport.

The proposal is “one of a kind, OHSAA spokesman Tim Stried said. Other states have been grappling with this issue, but we’re the only one to come up with a plan.”

Ross was quick to point out that it is not without flaws, but he called it a starting point for dealing with the private-vs.-public debate. A hot-button topic for years, it reignited after parochial schools won five of the six state football championships last month.

“For some time now, we’ve been conversing with school administrators and coaches associations, and we found that they were adamantly opposed to holding separate public and private tournaments, Ross said. But they insisted that the board needed to do something to address the competitive-balance issue.

“Our biggest concern was that we felt that public and nonpublic schools should be treated the same and go through the same filter, and we feel good about it being a complex yet fair system. Is it the answer to all of our problems? No. But it is a great start on something that will be a work in progress.”

The board felt compelled to act sooner than later after rumors that some public or private schools might introduce a referendum of their own or might leave the OHSAA and form their own associations.

If approved, the new formula would be implemented in eight sports – football, boys and girls basketball, girls and boys soccer, girls volleyball, baseball and softball – no later than August 2013, but it could be launched a year earlier.

The formula is difficult to figure until applied to each case. In the near future, the OHSAA plans to place examples of how the formula works on its website.

Two of the factors could increase a school’s “athletic count.” The school boundary factor would consider how schools draw students and whether open-enrollment policies apply.

The tradition factor would take into account a team’s state- and regional-tournament success over a rolling four-year period – more success meaning a higher count. The tradition factor would be the only one figured sport by sport.

The socioeconomic factor could decrease a school’s count; it would be based on a school’s number of free-lunch participants, based on data from the Ohio Department of Education.

Ross pointed out that Ohio’s open-enrollment policy creates an unusual situation.

“Our nonpublic schools have no geographical boundaries in which they can secure students, and the result has been a disproportionate number of championships won by those schools, he said.

Dave Gray, president of the OHSAA board, said several committees will continue to examine flaws and look for solutions.

Unfortunately, because this formula still creates an equal number of schools per division, we were unable to solve the discrepancies at the top level in Division I, said Gray, superintendent of Franklin-Monroe Schools in Darke County. The fact that a football team from a school with over 1, 000 boys can play against a team with 350 is definitely something we’re concerned about.” Division I currently comprises the largest schools.

Referendum proposals to create separate public and private tournaments were thoroughly defeated in 1978 (84 percent to 16 percent) and 1993 (67 percent to 33 percent).

Reaction to the proposal was mixed.

Canal Winchester athletic director and boys basketball coach Kent Riggs said it would be difficult to gauge the effectiveness of the bylaw until it was put into practice.

“Some schools simply play in divisions that aren’t the right fit for them, and everyone knows it, he said. With technology the way it is now, you’d think it would be a little easier to pull up some numbers and figure out a way to make the system more equitable. I hope the OHSAA has done this.”

Fresh off a Division IV state championship in football, Bishop Hartley coach Brad Burchfield fears that the formula ultimately will punish Catholic schools.

“I hear about this new rule being put in and all I think about is the trickle-down effect it will have on the football tournament, which is the greatest event in the country, he said. I can’t help but see this as the private schools being taken advantage of once again.”

Burchfield – who coached Centerburg (a public school) to a state semifinal before arriving at Hartley – opposes separate tournaments for public and private schools.

“I love the idea of rural, urban, suburban and private schools all competing against one another, he said. That’s the beauty of high-school sports. No matter what anyone else thinks, when you strip the uniforms off the kids, they all look the same.”

The proposal

In May, OHSAA member schools will vote on a proposal to reshape how divisions are determined in selected team sports. Besides enrollment, it would add these factors:

•, , School boundaries: Factors affecting sources of a school’s students – geographic boundaries, open enrollment and others – could effectively increase its enrollment figure for sports.

•, , Socioeconomic: The number of free-lunch participants could decrease a school’s enrollment figure.

•, , Tradition: Appearances in state title games, state tournaments and regional finals could increase a school’s enrollment figure.

New order?

Sports that would be affected by the new way of determining OHSAA divisions:

•, , Fall : football, boys and girls soccer, girls volleyball

•, , Winter : boys and girls basketball

•, , Spring : baseball, softball

Proposal To Shake Up Ohio H.S. Playoffs

The Columbus Dispatch (Ohio)

For years, Ohio High School Athletic Association officials have heard complaints that parochial schools have an unfair advantage in state high-school championships.

Yesterday, commissioner Dan Ross and the OHSAA took the first steps toward a system that, while confusing, could help bring balance to the state-tournament system in eight sports by changing how teams are assigned to divisions.

The group’s Board of Directors voted 9-0 to submit a proposed bylaw to a vote of the 829 member schools in May.

Currently, schools are classified solely according to their enrollment. If a majority of schools approve, teams will be divided according to an “athletic count” formula based on enrollment and adjusted according to three other factors – a school’s boundary area (including open enrollment), its socioeconomic status and recent postseason performance in each sport.

The proposal is “one of a kind, OHSAA spokesman Tim Stried said. Other states have been grappling with this issue, but we’re the only one to come up with a plan.”

Ross was quick to point out that it is not without flaws, but he called it a starting point for dealing with the private-vs.-public debate. A hot-button topic for years, it reignited after parochial schools won five of the six state football championships last month.

“For some time now, we’ve been conversing with school administrators and coaches associations, and we found that they were adamantly opposed to holding separate public and private tournaments, Ross said. But they insisted that the board needed to do something to address the competitive-balance issue.

“Our biggest concern was that we felt that public and nonpublic schools should be treated the same and go through the same filter, and we feel good about it being a complex yet fair system. Is it the answer to all of our problems? No. But it is a great start on something that will be a work in progress.”

The board felt compelled to act sooner than later after rumors that some public or private schools might introduce a referendum of their own or might leave the OHSAA and form their own associations.

If approved, the new formula would be implemented in eight sports – football, boys and girls basketball, girls and boys soccer, girls volleyball, baseball and softball – no later than August 2013, but it could be launched a year earlier.

The formula is difficult to figure until applied to each case. In the near future, the OHSAA plans to place examples of how the formula works on its website.

Two of the factors could increase a school’s “athletic count.” The school boundary factor would consider how schools draw students and whether open-enrollment policies apply.

The tradition factor would take into account a team’s state- and regional-tournament success over a rolling four-year period – more success meaning a higher count. The tradition factor would be the only one figured sport by sport.

The socioeconomic factor could decrease a school’s count; it would be based on a school’s number of free-lunch participants, based on data from the Ohio Department of Education.

Ross pointed out that Ohio’s open-enrollment policy creates an unusual situation.

“Our nonpublic schools have no geographical boundaries in which they can secure students, and the result has been a disproportionate number of championships won by those schools, he said.

Dave Gray, president of the OHSAA board, said several committees will continue to examine flaws and look for solutions.

Unfortunately, because this formula still creates an equal number of schools per division, we were unable to solve the discrepancies at the top level in Division I, said Gray, superintendent of Franklin-Monroe Schools in Darke County. The fact that a football team from a school with over 1, 000 boys can play against a team with 350 is definitely something we’re concerned about.” Division I currently comprises the largest schools.

Referendum proposals to create separate public and private tournaments were thoroughly defeated in 1978 (84 percent to 16 percent) and 1993 (67 percent to 33 percent).

Reaction to the proposal was mixed.

Canal Winchester athletic director and boys basketball coach Kent Riggs said it would be difficult to gauge the effectiveness of the bylaw until it was put into practice.

“Some schools simply play in divisions that aren’t the right fit for them, and everyone knows it, he said. With technology the way it is now, you’d think it would be a little easier to pull up some numbers and figure out a way to make the system more equitable. I hope the OHSAA has done this.”

Fresh off a Division IV state championship in football, Bishop Hartley coach Brad Burchfield fears that the formula ultimately will punish Catholic schools.

“I hear about this new rule being put in and all I think about is the trickle-down effect it will have on the football tournament, which is the greatest event in the country, he said. I can’t help but see this as the private schools being taken advantage of once again.”

Burchfield – who coached Centerburg (a public school) to a state semifinal before arriving at Hartley – opposes separate tournaments for public and private schools.

“I love the idea of rural, urban, suburban and private schools all competing against one another, he said. That’s the beauty of high-school sports. No matter what anyone else thinks, when you strip the uniforms off the kids, they all look the same.”

The proposal

In May, OHSAA member schools will vote on a proposal to reshape how divisions are determined in selected team sports. Besides enrollment, it would add these factors:

•, , School boundaries: Factors affecting sources of a school’s students – geographic boundaries, open enrollment and others – could effectively increase its enrollment figure for sports.

•, , Socioeconomic: The number of free-lunch participants could decrease a school’s enrollment figure.

•, , Tradition: Appearances in state title games, state tournaments and regional finals could increase a school’s enrollment figure.

New order?

Sports that would be affected by the new way of determining OHSAA divisions:

•, , Fall : football, boys and girls soccer, girls volleyball

•, , Winter : boys and girls basketball

•, , Spring : baseball, softball






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