CBP Series: A private school separation? (and would that really be a bad thing?)


OHSAA: Competitive Balance

Today we continue our dissection of the OHSAA’s Competitive Balance Proposal with a look at one thing that could happen if it passes: a private school mutiny. A separation of Ohio’s schools is a very real possibility should the CBP pass and we’ll take a look at that, including whether or not that would necessarily be a bad thing…

INTRO: What we’re doing and looking at

CBP Series Article 3: A private school separation? (and would that really be a bad thing?)

As girls basketball coach at Kettering Alter High School, Chris Hart doesn’t like the OHSAA’s Competitive Balance Proposal because it would more than likely push the Knights successful hoops program into Division I. As Alter’s Athletic Director, Hart oversees three other sports at the school that would also be bumped up a division: football (IV to III), boys soccer (II to I) and volleyball (II to I).

Arguably no school in Ohio will be affected more negatively by the proposal than Alter. And remember what we said prior about D-I getting tougher? Three of the Knights state-championship caliber programs would be bumping up and in with the big schools.

Fair? To who?

“In general, people within the Alter community are unhappy with the proposal,” Hart said. “In their minds, Alter will be ‘penalized’ for having successful athletic teams. Like so many schools, we face obstacles, including (but not limited to) subpar facilities and grossly underpaid coaches. Finding a way to work around those obstacles has proven beneficial for our athletic teams. Adding more ‘obstacles’ would mean that our student-athletes and coaches would have to work even harder to achieve the type of success our community demands.”

Alter is not alone.

“Obviously our school and community are adamant against this proposal,” Columbus Hartley football coach Brad Burchfield said. “This will punish schools like us who are middle enrollment and have had recent success. We don’t get an abundance of transfers…ever. We have a significant pay to participate system – it is called tuition. Great sacrifices are made by our school community.”

“(Our school/community) is not really fond of (the proposal) to say the least,” Columbus Watterson football coach Dan Bjelac said. “I’m not for it and see it as lumping all private schools in one stereotypical category.  I think it penalizes people in a very unequal manner while claiming it is done fairly.”

Alter football coach Ed Domsitz said that if the CBP passed he wouldn’t be shocked to see Ohio’s catholic schools withdraw their OHSAA membership and form an athletic association of their own. That now seems to be a common and very real option.

Said Hart: “If (the proposal) were ever to come to fruition, I could see the private schools in Ohio forming their own association with their own set of rules and regulations.”

Added Delphos St. John’s head football coach Todd Schulte: “I think (this proposal) is a big mistake that could have long lasting affects on the OHSAA and its member schools, affects that could potentially ruin what we have now.”

Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary athletic director Andy Jalwan agreed: “Personally, I am not too excited about this referendum. I do not like some of the language and factors that are being considered.”

Most parochial schools feel that way, and despite their vocal threats of forming an independent association, the REAL question is would a private school defection really hurt the OHSAA that much?

Financially it could be argued a private school mutiny would enhance the OHSAA’s bank account.

Less teams means less schools to police, less tournament venues and dates to deal with and arguably more revenue. Annual all-public school state finals would be a gold mine. At this year’s girls basketball state finals, the D-III state championship between public schools Anna and Oak Hill drew a finals best 4,962. The D-II final between private schools Hathaway Brown and Dayton Carroll drew a finals low 3,501. The same thing happened last year when public schools Findlay Liberty-Benton and Middletown Madison drew a finals best crowd of 6,098 in D-III and the D-II final between Alter and Hathaway Brown drew a finals worst 3,688. An extra 3,500 people is a big deal.

Don’t think the OHSAA doesn’t already dread all private school finals? Consider: This past fall in the Division V football state semifinals, Coldwater and Lima Central Catholic did not play each other despite being separated by a mere 40 miles. Both could have split the difference and met in Wapakoneta. Instead, the OHSAA sent LCC 105 miles east to Ashland and a date with Youngstown Ursuline. Coldwater was shipped 116 miles southeast to Columbus where it played Fredericktown. This ensured a Public vs Private D-V state final instead of an all-private one.

“The Competitive Balance ‘folk’ will point to schools like Mooney, Ursuline and Delphos St. Johns as an example that the system is broke,” Burchfield said. “What they refuse to acknowledge is that within the past 10 years Mooney was 0-10, Ursuline 3-7 and DSJ 2-8. Those teams were not overnight successes.”

Said Hart: “It’s a shame that it’s come to this at all.”

Job creation. In all seriousness, if the private/parochial schools did separate and form their own association, they would need people to run it and places to hold their state tournaments. And it would be a sustainable organization (potential revenue through dues and/or donors). There’s no way all-private school state finals would attract as many people as all-public school ones, but they would be attractive. Conflicting dates with public school tournaments could be a concern for attendance. Another party that would benefit from competing tournaments is sports media. More venues/events that need covered and the potential for additional TV broadcasts on rival cable station$.



Background: Dissecting the OHSAA’s “Competitive Balance Committee” proposal

Monday: What about Division I?

Tuesday: Penalizing Success – throw the ‘Tradition Factor’ out

Wednesday: A private school separation? (and would that really be a bad thing?)

Thursday: Coming…

Friday: Coming…

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