A few weeks ago in this space, we told you about an issue that Ohio High School Athletic Association membership is facing this spring.
During the last few years, the issue of 'competitive balance' just won't go away. Regardless what sport it is, it just doesn't stop.
There was a point where the OHSAA believed its membership would be voting on whether or not to fully separate the public and private schools. Thankfully, the folks in Wayne County, who submitted the issue to be voted on, reneged on their initial idea of full separation.
However, as Eastern District schools and a small group of media learned last Wednesday during the yearly OHSAA Athletic Discussion meeting held in Cambridge, the Wayne County administrators altered their plan under conditions.
The biggest condition being another vote on 'competitive balance' under a new set of circumstances. The new format is much simpler and deals on a sport by sport basis rather than lumping all team sports together and coming up with one athletic count number.
OHSAA Assistant Commissioner Dr. Deborah Moore presented the facts and information to the group that included representatives of local schools such as Barnesville, Bellaire, Bridgeport, Monroe Central, River and St. Clairsville.
"This is not going away, believe me," Dr. Moore said. "Believe us when we tell you that this is the best idea we've had."
In years' past, the vote of competitive balance has failed, but the margin of the vote has drawn closer each time, which led the to the continuing meetings of the 'competitive balance' committee.
The previous methods planned included looking at socioeconomic factors, tradition and whether or not a school utilizes open enrollment.
The socioeconomic has been completely erased from the new proposal and the tradition factor has been significantly altered. The real main objective is where each team gets its players.
"The filter would be the same for public and non public," Moore said. "This looks at who is playing (on the team)."
However, the filter would most likely take a much bigger affect on the non public schools.
As for the nuts and bolts of the plan, it goes like this:
The OHSAA would continue to collect enrollment figures through EMIS data that's supplied by the state department of education.
From there, each team would submit its roster and they'd do so through the eligibility sheet that the OHSAA already requires. Now, however, the sheet would include the village or city that the athlete resides in.
The number used as the multiplier varies by sport. Football is obviously the biggest with, starting next season, seven divisions. Therefore, the OHSAA came up with the number two as the multiplier. The four-division sports are expected to use five as their multiplier.
Soccer is the only team sport that's in three divisions and Moore was quite frank that the number to use for it hadn't been determined.
"There are some things we don't know," Moore said.
For instance, if School 'A' had an EMIS count of 150 males. Of those, 70 were on the football team. Of that 70, 20 of them lived outside of the school district. So, 20 would be multiplied by two and that 40 would be added to 150, giving School 'A' a football count of 190. That's the number the OHSAA would in turn use to place that school in its division.
If you're wondering how this affects the private schools, it does greatly. According to the information provided, the non public school's district would basically be the town in which the school sits. Anyone on a respective team not from that community or school district would be multiplied.
The OHSAA has done its homework on the non public schools in larger cities, too. There are district lines drawn and those will be utilized.
The OHSAA will also have set up penalties should a school falsify information on its eligibility sheet. A monetary fine or loss of tournament privleges or at a great extreme, the school could lose its membership.
As a reminder, the new policy only deals with 'team' sports. Those include: football, soccer, volleyball, basketball, baseball and softball. Any sport that crowns individual state champions will not be affected and the normal way of counting with the EMIS data will continue. Though, since wrestling added the team tournament this past winter, the OHSAA could lump team grappling into this as well down the road.
Should this measure pass, it won't take effect until Aug. 1 of 2015 because the OHSAA announces its divisional assignments for sports this year and those are utilized for two years.
The membership will receive its ballots on Monday and they're due back to the OHSAA office by May 15 and the results will be made public during the afternoon of May 16.
So, what if this proposal fails?
Moore was quick with an answer, "I can guarantee another petition next year."
We sincerely hope that all of our area schools take the time and share the information with their respective coaches in these sports and make a decision that's in their best interest.
The cliche you always hear during election times certainly rings true for the OHSAA membership ... your vote counts.
SPEAKING OF those divisional counts, Dr. Moore believes the fall sports divisions will be announced in May. The winter sports in June and the spring of 2014 divisions will be set in August. The OHSAA Board of Directors doesn't meet in July.
FORMER STEUBENVILLE Big Red wrestler Shawn McGhee was named Mid-South Conference Wrestling Freshman of the Year after earning All-American status at Campbellsville, an NAIA school, in Kentucky. McGhee finished the season with a 20-9 record and fourth at the NAIA nationals. McGhee won two OVAC titles and was the fourth-place finisher in the Division II state meet in 2012.
Staskey can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org