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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

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Three strikes and you are out! 
It is time for a change in leadership in the Ohio High School Athletic Association. The third defeat of a competitive balance vote is turning into a very sad situation on how the OHSAA is being operated and in the long run causing havoc in Ohio high school athletics. 

Let’s take a look at the effort to make a “balanced” playing field for everyone.

(1)During the boys state basketball championships it is announced that the separate tournament vote will be pulled and a new competitive balance proposal will be voted on instead, less than two months before the vote. 

(2)The OHSAA releases enrollment figures that are not correct and have to be adjusted only by a school system requesting the change. Enrollment figures are an important part of the proposed CB proposal.

(3)Many questions were being asked about the new proposal and the answer that usually came back from officials was, “Not sure, but we will tweak this issue as we move forward.”

(4)Three proposals were beat by a slim margin of a nearly 50-50 vote and a large number of schools did not participate or abstained from voting. Of 823 high school ballots mailed, 667 ballots were returned including four invalid and 27 past the deadline (81 percent).

(5)Formulas that were created for the multiplier were very complex and based on items not related to athletics. The formulas also included public school systems to be a part of the process.

(6)The OHSAA is facing in May of 2014 two votes — one will be another competitive balance plan and the other a separate tournament for publics and privates.

There were three proposals and three failures, all of them being endorsed by the OHSAA administration. This was their effort to avoid separate tournaments for the future. The OHSAA is avoiding the “elephant in the room” that public schools are not happy with the number of private schools winning state titles. The proposals were not addressing that issue to many public schools.

This last proposal had many private and public school officials saying “Don’t like the plan, but it is better than separate tournaments”. That comment is not a huge endorsement of the plan and it looks like some schools voted because they were not happy with a “a last minute, half-baked plan”

This battle has burnt many bridges over the entire process between the association and some member schools. The OHSAA picking a side and pushing for its passage has been another factor in the defeat of the proposal, just check out some comments after this last vote. The OHSAA does not want separate tournaments, why? The move to separate tournaments will most likely put a major financial hurt on the association and jobs could be lost. 

The OHSAA was formed to serve schools, not for the schools to serve them. The OHSAA fighting openly to defeat the separate tournaments was wrong, that is for the member schools to decide.  You did not see campaigns in favor or against any of the other proposals voted on.

The past several months, three southern state athletic associations (Florida, South Carolina and Louisiana) have been under scrutiny by member schools and state legislatures. The reason they were facing issues — too much control and power over the schools with transfer issues, public vs. private issues and the process in hearing appeals after a suspensions, etc. 

The FHASAA (Florida) came very close to being taken over by the state as the bill passed in the House, but was tabled in the Senate. The SCHSL (South Carolina) made some last second by-law changes at the request of politicians and avoided possibly being shut down.

LHSAA (Louisiana) recently separated some football playoffs and state political officials had several discussions on how to oversee the association, but took no action. The OHSAA needs to take a real good look in the mirror and see how they serve members in the future.

It is interesting to note that the vote for separate tournaments had to get 75 member schools signatures to be placed on the ballot while the “last minute” competitive balance proposal replaced it without any members’ signatures.

The biggest mistake for the OHSAA will be to come up with another CB plan and “cute little” formula for the fourth time and place it on the ballot. The only way that should be allowed is to go and get 75 signatures on a petition or place the separate tournament vote on the ballot without a petition.  Let the member schools decide the future, not the OHSAA administration. 

A “fresh” approach with this subject is needed —to look and evaluate what is best for everyone and dump the “committee” because it doesn’t work.  Member schools should consider what could happen if separate tournaments are voted in. A vote to separate may not be the answer, but if it is, they better be prepared for the consequences. 

States across the U.S. handle tournaments in many ways, which leads us to believe there is no “perfect” answer. There are states that survive quite well with both a public school association and private associations (Texas and North Carolina).

The OHSAA administration says they do not know what would happen if separate tournaments are voted in, so you need to find someone new to lead the OHSAA who can handle any situation that comes up. Again, the OHSAA works for the members. How about doing a study on the subject of separate tournaments, instead of saying it’s not going to work just because you don’t like it.

Dave Schmidt is a high school and college sports league consultant and the editor of The Senior Reports.com.

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