A revised Competitive Balance proposal was narrowly defeated on Thursday. It was the third straight year that Ohio High School Athletic Association member principals just said no.
But that isn’t the end of it.
The crux of the issue is a disproportionate amount of state championships won by private schools, mainly Catholic. It’s a hot-button issue that isn’t limited to Ohio.
The referendum was defeated 327-308. The 51.5-48.5 percent difference was the closest vote yet.
Here’s what OHSAA Commissioner Dr. Dan Ross had to say about it:
Q Your reaction?
A I wasn’t really surprised, because I thought it was going to be close. I was disappointed because I was hoping that it would pass. This is a journey that we’re on. We’re making changes that are monstrous kinds of changes that affect kids in our schools. You just have to be really patient dealing with this. Hopefully, we can bring people to the middle and move on.
Q Now what?
A We’re going to do a survey of our membership principals. Then we’re going to take the information and bring our Competitive Balance Committee back together and let them review the results, what we’ve heard and any anecdotal pieces. The committee will decide if it’s something that they want to tweak or if they want to work on and then make a recommendation to the board of directors, either in August or September.
Q How do you address the 191 principals who didn’t vote?
A If there’s any that don’t vote, that’s too many for me. There is no mechanism within our association that forces schools to vote. The only piece that we could do is if there would be the inclusion of a constitutional amendment that would make (voting) mandatory. There hasn’t been a push from membership to make that happen. It is disappointing, because this is an extremely important issue.
Q What could have helped passage?
A One has to do with timing of the EMIS numbers. Some of the schools have received their EMIS numbers and were in error. Especially since that was going to be the basis for where the formula would start, it provided some grief for some people. … This came really late. It was the option to circumvent the separation vote.
Q Are we done with separation of public and private schools or not?
A You have 48.5 percent of your members who aren’t real happy. I think you may get referendum fatigue, but the items are going to be on there every year. … That issue is still on the table. Where that goes, I can’t tell you.
Q Is the OHSAA on the right track with this?
A We’re very close. … For some people it was too much, too quick. You don’t know all the reasons and it’s tough to judge intent, but you don’t know why people vote against things. We did hear from some people that they would have liked more time to work through this piece. We had a lot of comments on ballots … that we’re moving in the right direction and that this is the right step in the right direction.
Q Will this continue to be an annual issue until passed?
A The board of directors are going to have to make a determination on that. … I don’t know how long that would go, but the issue is probably going to be on the table for a while. This isn’t just happening in Ohio. … I hope that we can stay out of the extreme issues of dealing with this.
Q What about addressing Division I?
A That’s the one piece to this that’s a nemesis. We heard from some schools who said they were going to vote against this issue because it didn’t help them. … I don’t know on the top end of Division I how you deal with that because there’s no farther to go up. … There are a lot of people on the top end of Division I who believe that the only way to deal with this issue is separation because it’s the only way that it will affect them.
Q Does there have to be a referendum vote? Could the board of directors initiate a change?
A We could do this. This is such an important issue that our member schools should have an opportunity to say how that’s going to be dealt with because that change will probably be in place for a long time. … We kicked the can another year down the road. It’ll give us another year to educate the public. We’ll get more input from our schools and we’ll see where it goes.
Q At what point do you say that we are done with this?
A The board could very easily listen to what the recommendation is and say, nah, we don’t want to do that. They’ve chosen not the make that determination. Who knows? We have a new board that comes on every year. We rotate every two years. There could be a board that says hey, we’ve tried this two-three times, we’ve had the separation proposal on there and we’re done. That’s certainly a possibility.
Q What is competitive balance and how do you know when you have it?
A For a lot of people it’s in the eye of the beholder. It’s like fairness. I think about how schools get their kids, that everybody is getting their kids the exact same way. Or if not, there’s a piece that is going to be compensation for how that piece works. … We took a napkin. You’re a Division III school and you get your kids from (a) geographic area (that) is symbolic of the size of the napkin. Someone else is getting their (kids) from an 8-by-8 foot table, and they’re also Division III. It’s not fair. In order to try and make that fair, in everybody’s eyes, that’s probably not ever going to happen.