OHSAA Competitive Balance Makes Sense

By Kyle Rowland on May 21, 2014 at 1:00p
55 Comments

A change is coming, and it was long overdue.

Last week a competitive-balance proposal passed in a vote by principals from around the state of Ohio. The Ohio High School Athletic Association’s hope is to level the playing field between public and private schools. It was the fourth time in three years the OHSAA had a vote on the matter.

They finally got the appropriate support to institute the referendum. But not everyone ends up happy in these situations, especially when the finally tally is so close – 411 votes to 323.

Beginning in 2016-17, divisions will be divided based on several modifiers such as where a student lives and their enrollment history since seventh grade. It will be done so on a sport-by-sport basis with an examination of rosters in football, boys and girls basketball, baseball, softball and boys and girls soccer.

Schools that have heavy open enrollment will be affected, as will private schools. In most cases, it will involve a move up in divisions.

“While passing the plan was a major step and truly exciting, our work is just beginning since the competitive balance committee will continue to clarify any unanswered questions and our staff will put all the wheels in motion to finalize the electronic roster collection system,” OHSAA commissioner Dan Ross said.

What the measure will not do is create private-only state championships, a mockery in states that separate the so-called haves and have-nots. It was Ross’s hope to avoid that catastrophe and asterisk adding to state titles.

The private vs. public debate has raged on in Ohio for decades. In 1978 and 1993, there were proposals to separate private and public schools. Both votes were landslides for “no.” In all sports, but most notably uber-competitive football and basketball, many believe private schools have an advantage, thanks to recruiting and the ability to draw kids from as far away as an hour’s drive. 

Private and public schools are crying foul. The private institutions believe they’re being targeted (though not all), while those at public schools fear a few open-enrollment kids will thrust them into a division that will zap their competitiveness.

Youngstown Cardinal Mooney offers one of the best examples in favor of the measure. It’s been a football power in Divisions III and IV. Loaded with top-tier talent every season, Mooney routinely beats Division I schools. In some seasons, Mooney’s been considered one of the top teams in the state regardless of division. The school’s trophy case has been filled with four state championships since 2004.

“This version [of competitive balance] is the result of a compilation of input from our superintendents, principals, athletic administrators, and coaches,” Ross said. “I’m most proud that we were able to work together and come up with a solution that will create a better system than we currently have because it looks at how schools secure the enrollment of their students participating in interscholastic athletics.”

Even though open-enrollment schools could see a tougher path to the state championship, the OHSAA is doing its job in discovering avenues that lead to the most competitive divisions. The trend toward big private-school state champions in the marquee sports has grown dramatically since the state moved to a football playoff system in 1972.

Twenty-seven Division I titles – out of 42 – have gone to private schools. In the past 20 years, there have been seven public state champions. Divisions III and IV also have been inundated with private-school state champions. A population shift to suburbs and away from big city public schools has factored into the private school domination. 

The verdict: private schools have an overwhelming advantage, which comes from not being limited to one parcel of land. They’re located in districts with no boundaries.

The measure that just passed might not be a cure-all for Ohio high school sports, but it goes a long way in eliminating the free-for-all nature that increasingly has high school athletics creeping toward college and – gasp! – professional atmospheres of glitz and glamor.

The prevalence of private-school champions was the driving force in competitive-balance proposals. Previous suggestions included splitting teams based on socio-economic factors and tradition. Needless to say, they were dismissed with a whimper. The fourth attempt finally combined relevant factors in deciding which teams should placed together.

Instead of making blind decisions, the OHSAA consulted its members and came up with a sensible plan that leaves 56 percent happy – at least for now.  

55 Comments

Comments

AndyVance's picture

Now if only they'll implement more of Urban Meyer's suggestions on how to make Ohio high school football coaching/training more on par with schools in the South...

+3 HS
Danify's picture

Great step forward for Ohio High School sports. Now, lets talk about Spring Football for Ohio.

+6 HS
Furious George 27's picture

I agree, I think spring ball would help competitiveness just as much. Private schools can recruit in a way, but also a lot of it is that the kids have been on the same team since 3rd grade. Having a core of players familiar with each other goes a long way as well.

Yeah, well…that’s just like, your opinion, man.

Danify's picture

Agreed. To go further I've coached Middle School and Youth league football in Marion (Youth League started 6 years ago in Marion) and I'm amazed the different between the freshmen I coached as 4th graders compared to players who started playing together in 7th grade. It helps every team to get the playbook down for their coaches and players.

Zimmy07's picture

The 4th graders run the same basic plays as the High School teams??

Wow.  I wonder what that would be like if a district tried to do that in one of the larger cities.  My kids teams have run:  The Wishbone, The Single Wing, a spread-type offense, & a pro-set offense (not the I, though) in only 5 years of playing.  The've also run a 4-4, a 4-3, a 6-2, & a 5-4 on defense.  It must be nice to run the same kind of offense & defense each year.

If they play HS next year I heard their team runs a read/option spread - which they've played against but never run.

Danify's picture

Yeah the youth league for Marion Harding works directly with the 4th, 5th and 6th grade teams in Marion Youth League. We have coach meetings before the season in July to receive the playbook (offense and defense) that the High School team will use for the year. It's mainly simplisitic Single-back, Fullback, Twin TEs, Pro-style offense with heavy usage on the run game and fundmentals (blocking scheme, etc...). Been using the same schemes on offense and defense (4-3) since the youth league team started.

+1 HS
MAVBuck's picture

As a high school coach I have to say I couldnt disagree more with the idea of Spring football. Let the kids be kids. Unless youre some sort of superstar at football then why have a kid have to choose between track/baseball & spring drills. Too few of our young athletes are going on to D1 programs so let them be more well rounded and enjoy it while they can.

-1 HS
daveyt11's picture

I always considered this a tough issue, I can empathize with both sides. Basically private schools and well to do suburbs have more $$ to have better facilities, coaches etc.. but then they can argue about Glenville, Canton Mckinley, Massilon and their success.

Toilrt Paper's picture

This will only impact a few schools. The school must be close to the top of Division for the new rule to have an affect and move that school to a higher Division. It will make ZERO change to DI. There is no Division to move up a DI school to, even with 100's of extra student factors added to their total.

+3 HS
JasonR's picture

Ever since I watched my high school alma mater (in a town of 2,200) get destroyed by Cleveland VASJ (loaded with D1 talent) in the DIVISION FREAKING FOUR state basketball championship a couple of years ago, I've been hoping they would do something to make things more even. Hope this is a step in the right direction.

daveyt11's picture

They were my high schools arch rival growing up (St Josephs then, Villa Angela had not merged with them yet). We were Michigan, they were OSU, beat us 13 of 14 times

Clevelander's picture

Berlin Hiland (a public school) also laid waste to Division IV the previous two years with college talent.

ChallengeMe's picture

Berlin Hiland, in Holmes County, does not nor ever had a football team. They have great boys and girls basketball teams but this competitive balance only deals with football.

+1 HS
Clevelander's picture

I'm aware, but he was talking about hoops.

buckeyeotaku's picture

It will be done so on a sport-by-sport basis with an examination of rosters in football, boys and girls basketball, baseball, softball and boys and girls soccer.

the way i read it this will effect all of the major sports if they're recruiting from other districts.

We don't give a damn for the whole state of Bichigan

+1 HS
Toilrt Paper's picture

Nope, "this competitive balance deals with" ALL team sports.

+1 HS
Buckeye80's picture

Finally!  This has been a problem forever.  My alma mater made it to the (at the time) D6 playoffs.  They faced a catholic school in the first round.  My school had 95 boys in 9-12.  Thirty-five players on the roster.  The catholic school, which by the rules has to have 120 or less boys in 9-12 shows up and has 70 kids on the football team.  How is this fair?  Hopefully this fixes the problem.

 

+1 HS
Clevelander's picture

Sounds like Marion Local

Bigbutterbuckeye's picture

Marion Local is a public school. I am betting he is talking about Delphos St Johns, in the same league as Marion, the MAC. Or perhaps Newark Catholic, which has also been a small school power. Delphos will probably not be affected by this much. They very rarely have players from outside their town. Hell, they don't even get all the good players in Delphos.The public school in town, Jefferson, has had a decent team the last few years. DSJ just has an enormous percentage turnout for football, mainly because of the tradition around the football team.

At least they didn't pass that horrible version of this that was proposed a few years ago, where schools would be penalized in a similar way for just being successful. In that version, advancing so far in the playoffs gave you points. If you acquired a certain amount of points over a few years you would get moved up in division.

ESPN starting the SEC channel to concentrate on the SEC is like Baskin-Robbins starting a new store to concentrate on selling ice cream.

+1 HS
Buckeye80's picture

I hate to put names out there, but my experience was with Newark Catholic.  I'm not putting them down in anyway, its just hard for a school with the limit of boys and a school 30-40 boys under the limit to compete with each other. 

 

Clevelander's picture

What I am saying is that it's not only some private schools that have large rosters, some publics do too.

+1 HS
RodVedder4's picture

My understanding is that they will also take into account the number of student-athletes on a team to determine which division a team should be a part of, which is good for sports like track.  As a track coach at a very small school that got bumped up to Division II this year because of a large freshman class, it makes it very difficult for us to compete (read: impossible) for a championship.  My team has 24 athletes, boys and girls combined.  We're competing against teams with 50 boys and girls each, so no matter how well our athletes do in their respective races and relays, we're still pretty much screwed if we're trying to win a district title.  We have enough trouble competing in Division III against the likes of Columbus Academy, and now we're up with a good bit of the City League, like Beechcroft, Linden McKinley, and East.  Academy's team is bigger than most D-II teams (hell, some D-I too) we've seen this year, yet they're in D-III?

Sorry, long-winded way to say that I'm in support of this measure.

Excellence and greatness will be remembered...there is no room for average. None. - Urban Meyer

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ - Joey Bosa

+1 HS
Adam21's picture

As of right now, individual, not team, sports (i.e. track, cross country, swimming, etc) will not be effected by this. However, the OHSAA is still in the works to figure something out for those sports.

Toilrt Paper's picture

The new Competitive Balance does not take into account the number of student athletes on a team, Just the number of student athletes that came to each school after the start of the 7th grade.

-1 HS
MikeLew's picture

That's not true. Student-athletes who show up before 7th grade, but are from a different school are double counted. Student-athletes who show up after 7th grade and are from a different school are triple counted.

+1 HS
Adam21's picture

It does take into account the roster of the team.

http://www.ohsaa.org/members/refvote/2014ReferendumResultsRelease.pdf

"In addition to the size of a school’s enrollment, the Completive Balance Plan will have new modifying factors that 
will be applied to students on each roster on a sport‐by‐sport basis and are based on where the student’s parents 
reside and/or the educational system history of the student."

+1 HS
IBLEEDSCARLETANDGRAY's picture

The verdict: private schools have an overwhelming advantage, which comes from not being limited to one parcel of land. They’re located in districts with no boundaries.

This to me is the heart of the matter. The question is will these changes mitigate that "no boundary" school's competitive advantage or will it simply create more fraud? (i.e., athletes moving in with relatives or dad's golfing buddy in order to attend a particular school district). What this also does not address are the big schools who cheat like the SEC (payola). There will always be a competitive disadvantage for schools with not as much money as big Division I districts.

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

-1 HS
Kyle Rowland's picture

Just like anything, schools/kids/parents will find loopholes and ways around rules. But at least something is set up to minimize that. And if you do move in high school (or after 7th grade), you're going to be multiplied. 

Flyermike's picture

I'm a little biased here having a played for a catholic high school.  A couple thoughts...

1.  People always say the private schools recruit, well there are plenty of examples where public schools do as well.  Trotwood here close to Dayton magically has the best athletes in the area, and are always going to state.  My team was lucky enough to make it to state my senior year (the only player we had play college ball above Div-III walked on at Eastern Michigan), but we got curb stomped by Columbus Brookhaven 39-3 in the semis.  They had close to 10 division I players on that team.  Is that just by chance that they all went to the same Columbus high school?

2.  This new system still won't do anything about big boy Div-I football in Ohio.  Elder, St. X, St. Eds, and St. Ig. are still going to rule the state.  

3.  I don't hear anyone complaining how the farm schools in central Ohio dominate the lower divisions.  Coldwater and Marion Local are piling up state championships like they are going out of style.  Do they recruit too?  Or do they just have communities that are heavily involved in their football programs?

I think in general this will hurt the private schools in lower divisions (like my alma mater).  

+1 HS
Scarlet_Lutefisk's picture

I think you need to reread the proposal. Trotwood would be a prime candidate for getting bumped back up to Div II due to the open-enrollment policy whereas Carroll would not.

I think it is very telling that when the Archdiocese of Cincinnati instituted a strict districting policy for it's schools, Moeller effectively disappeared as a football power until they were relaxed a decade later.

+2 HS
Toilrt Paper's picture

The new rule will only affect schools that are close to being in a higher Division, If a school is in the middle or bottom of a Division the "add on" for transfer and open enrollment athletes won't move them to a higher Division..

Nick's picture

Columbus has school option so they just have to live in the district and can go to any school they want. They are closing Brookhaven though.

luckynutz's picture

As far as your small school powers...most of those schools dont have other fall sports. So its football...I remember playing against Rockford parkway in the playoffs in high school. This school is not very big...and they show up with about 85-90 players. For a division 5 school. For perspective, my team had 40 players. Its not like they are bringing in kids from all ovr. They simply have no other sports available for them to play. So they play football. And the coaching and discipline from these schools is ridiculous as well.

dc28's picture

I am so sick of this crap. Public schools complaining because they think things are unfair. The last time I checked Glenville was sending more kids to DI in football than any other school and yet they can't beat St. Eds or Iggy. Glenville has another school called Ginn Academy, what the heck is that? State Championships are not what is important. Sit back and think about it, kids transfer schools because they want to get seen or noticed or mom and drive are driving the push because of athletics. Do kids who don't play sports transfer because one school has a better science department than the others, usually not. What is missing in all of this is these PARENTS/kids don't see that academics is what matters most. Having smarts, a good education is what matters. Less than 1% of athletes go pro and make money from sports. When are PARENTS/kids going to be educated on what is really important?
 

RoyWalley's picture

Agree with you 100%.  Well said. ^

-1 HS
MattyBeingMatty's picture

As a baseball coach at your example, Cardinal Mooney, this sucks...

“Not everybody’s the perfect person in the world, I mean everyone kills people, murders people, steals from you, steals from me, whatever. I think that people need a second chance, and I’ve always looked up to Mike Vick." -TP

-1 HS
Joebobb's picture

I find this debate totally ridiculous. This is HIGH SCHOOL. Last I remember, the point of high school is to get an education, not win state championships. Schools should be measured by the quality of citizens they produce not the number of D1 athletes or state championships. Football/basketball/baseball/etc. are extra curriculars and not necessarily part of the academic mission of the school. Yes they are important as far as the culture of the institution but at the end of the day, they teach an important lesson. The playing field is not going to be equal in all cases and not everyone gets a medal for participation. Principals need to focus on the education of their students, at the end of the day, state championships are not important.

+1 HS
RoyWalley's picture

Excellent post JoeBobb, you hit the nail on the head.

+1 HS
German Buckeye's picture

Not disagreeing with your premise, but with ESPN broadcasting high school football games, Nike Camps that make the interweb and everything else that exists now for exposure that didn't back when I graduated from Tecumseh HS (a farm community near Springfield), parents will gravitate toward what will advance their childs apirations to the next level. This of course flies in the face of the stats that very few that will make it to the OSU's of the world (or even Div I level competitive sports), but people still buy lotto tickets with the hope of winning don't they?

skid21's picture

Not to mention the fact that if you are a high school athlete you want a level playing field and as much of an opportunity to win a title as the next guy. This has nothing to do with academics. I have no idea how anyone could think this ruling puts academics as a lower priority.

+2 HS
skid21's picture

Schools should be measured by the quality of citizens they produce not the number of D1 athletes or state championships. Football/basketball/baseball/etc. are extra curriculars and not necessarily part of the academic mission of the school. Yes they are important as far as the culture of the institution but at the end of the day, they teach an important lesson. The playing field is not going to be equal in all cases and not everyone gets a medal for participation. Principals need to focus on the education of their students, at the end of the day, state championships are not important.

How is this not true of college as well?

+4 HS
Mr. Slick's picture

Schools that have heavy open enrollment will be affected, as will private schools. In most cases, it will involve a move up in divisions.

This is completely false - this (as it stands right now) will change VERY little.  

It is certainly a step in the right direction, but unless (until?) it gets tweaked (amped up) not much will be different.

-1 HS
Kyle Rowland's picture

Heavy means a lot. Schools that have a large a quantity of open enrollees and/or transfers since seventh grade would also have a high number of multipliers, hence being candidates to move up. 

Toilrt Paper's picture

Not ALL transfers or Open Enrollment students will be part of the multiplier, just the ones that play a specific team sport.

Mr. Slick's picture

According to OHSAA's own simulation - http://ohsaa.org/members/rcbp/RevisedCompetitiveBalanceProposal.htm

With a quick scan the highest non D1 (bc they couldn't move up anyway) Boundary Factors for boys basketball were for the following schools

PADUA FRANCISCAN - 31.8 

NOTRE DAME-CATHEDRAL LATIN - 28.8 

ST VINCENT-ST MARY (shocking I know) - 27

NONE of these schools moved up a division and most schools are no where NEAR this high of a Boundary factor.  Even Padua would have had to be in the top 20% of its division to be moved up.  A more common "high" number around 10-12 (just my approximation) would have to be somewhere in the top 7% of its division to be changed.  So even the "heavy" open enrollment schools are very likely not going to be effected by this (not yet). 

Since someone mentioned how ridiculous Villa Angela St Joes was I'll add this - Still in D4.

Kyle I hope you don't take this as an attack on your writing, but this article makes it seems like this will have a much bigger effect than it actually/immediately will.  I agree with you that this is very good for Ohio High School Sports and I think/hope they will tweak it to make it actually effective in what it is meant to do.

 

+1 HS
Clevelander's picture

Joe's was D3 in hoops and D6 infootball this year.

Mr. Slick's picture

That's right….. change that to "even worse - now in D4"

Toilrt Paper's picture

Actually this rule will hurt the innocent. A DII school close to DI with 2 football players that are open enrollment students will be moved into DI and have to compete against all of the BIG "Saint" schools. How is that fair?

+1 HS
EDUGOON's picture

Ok, playing field looks to be evening out. Cool beans. Now, OHSAA give our kids 20 days of padded spring ball!!! Ya Dig!!! "Let Our Kids Be Great!!!"

"We Don't Believe You, You Need More People"- Hova #GOBUCKS #FreeElGuapo #Famthik

buckskin's picture

We played Mooney in 87 in state finals in D3. Their line averaged 6.5 and 275. Their offense pounded us with the run and their D stuffed our 50 points a game offense. That was not a D3 football team. I know for a fact that some smaller private schools control enrollment to keep them at smaller divisions to keep the titles flowing. My sister worked with a prominent small high school coach for 20 years.

+2 HS
PoKeY21's picture

What's an average number of transfers that say a school like SVSM gets from 7th grade on? I can't imagine they get more than 15-20 athletes signed from outside the district. Maybe they do? But will ALL transfers be counted toward enrollment totals or just the athletes? Or are all the transfers at SVSM athletes? Lol

When my time on earth is gone, and my activities here are passed, I want they bury me upside down, and my critics can kiss my ass - Robert Knight

MikeLew's picture

I hate this new rule - let's look at a Columbus example, since I'm a Columbus resident - compare Bishop Watterson to Bexley High School (both in D4). With how the rule works, Watterson can designate one school as a feeder school, and not have those athletes double counted. The largest 8th grade class from any of Watterson's feeder schools is right about 50 kids a year. So, at most 25 boys could play without being double-counted. Anyone in a different Catholic grade school that has been there since 7th grade and goes to Watterson will be double-counted, and anyone that moves into the district in 7th or 8th grade, or goes to public elementary before Catholic HS will be triple-counted.

Meanwhile, Bexley has one middle school, with 150 kids moving to Bexley High School each year, none of whom will be double-counted. But sure, Watterson is the school that has all the advantages in this situation...

+1 HS
DCNick's picture

One thing to keep in mind is that athletic success is a little more important to private schools because it helps raise money from alumni. Of course it may help public schools get increased funding but I don't think the relationship is quite as direct. Private schools need engaged alumni or they will go downhill.

Bradychoke's picture

Nope.  This is officially the death kneel for all sports not named football.  Instead of legislating fairness, maybe administrations should focus on better schooling, facilities, coaches.   There are very few schools that actually recruit.     Case in point Kyle, you tried to make the point that schools recruit wide swaths of land.   Um. Columbus catholic schools are divided up based on feeder schools.   Desales can't pull from Dublin.  Watterson can't from Westerville.    Desales is struggling to put together a jv football team that's competitive.    Their soccer team who won a state championship 3 years ago won't have a jv team at all.   Please stick to college football.  Your ignorance on this matter is astounding and it's obvious you have an axe to grind. 

-1 HS
SilverBullet-98's picture

I just think there are a lot of honest Catholic Schools out struggling in depressed areas and happen to have their Catholic Schools positioned in a Central location of several school districts for a central location for all them towns Catholic families who choose to send there kids to a Catholic school will be hurt the most.

You don't have Catholic Cities!!!!    But 10 to 30 % of a town my be Catholic. So you have four towns tied together with 4 districts and a Central Catholc School for them 4 towns Catholics being punished for the 3 districts the Catholic School doesn't happen built in, that's just stupid.

What if they took this approach in College Football?

No OOS kids allowed, or for each OOS recruit on a roster , it will be factored into a punishment for the new playoff format. Would school invest or compete to try to offer new weight rooms and stadiums???

A kid is not propert of the school district, nor should he or his school of choice be punished because of his attendance. I don't care how many "butt-hurt" principals vote.

Every situation and town/school is unique, the broad brush they are using is borderline insanity. imho

 

 

"The Past Builds the Future"