CBP Series: ‘The climate in the northeast part of the state is not good right now’


OHSAA: Competitive Balance

In researching this Competitive Balance Proposal series, it was evident
something needed to be done…”what” though is not a
unanimous answer. Even the ones who started the fire don’t know what to do with
it. Despite that, statewide the vibe is
that personnel know WHY something is being done…The “R” word: Recruiting.

INTRO: What we’re doing and looking at

CBP Series Article 4: Does this even answer why we’re talking about it?

In polling coaches and administrators for this series, it’s evident something needed to be done. Exactly what that is though is not a unanimous answer.

Even the ones who started the fire don’t know exactly what to do with it.

The OHSAA has twice before voted on referendum issues regarding public and private school issues and both proposals (in 1978 and 1993) were defeated. Just four years ago (in 2006-07) an OHSAA committee tackled this very topic and decided nothing needed to be done.

But…in December 2009, 10 Wayne County school superintendents decided something did. The group sent a “Public vs Private” survey to leadership at every district in the OHSAA asking whether or not a competitive balance issue existed among its member schools. Less than 40-percent of Ohio’s 800-plus OHSAA member schools responded to the survey. Of those that did respond, 67-percent felt something needed to be done.

Presented with the numbers, the OHSAA formed its 29-member Competitive Balance Committee and now there’s a proposal and another member vote coming.

“This is not a Central Ohio or even a Southwest Ohio issue, in my eyes,” Columbus Hartley football coach Brad Burchfield said. “The drive for this is in Northeast Ohio.  I am worried that their problems will spill over to everyone. It’s a ‘They aren’t happy, so nobody will be happy’ kind of thinking.”

“The climate in the northeast part of the state is not good right now,” Alter athletic director Chris Hart added. “Superintendents and ADs from that area of Ohio are the ones who sent out the initial survey and followed up with a proposal for separate tournaments.  I think that there are some who share their strong resentment of private schools’ successes, and there are others who do not share their dislike. The core group that sent out the survey would like to see separate postseason tournaments. The OHSAA doesn’t share that desire.”

A lot of supporters have mentioned that they too – if any action is taken – would rather see separate state tournaments than manipulated ones based on “Athletic Counts.”

And if separate state tournaments happen it is highly doubtful the OHSAA runs both.

“Commissioner Ross is trying to hurry up and get this passed without anyone really understanding what it means,” Coldwater High School Athletic Director Eric Goodwin said. “There’s too many issues that are unanswered and not defined.”

One issue that sticks out more than any other is the OHSAA’s “blank check” solution in regards to the proposed penalty percentages. As proposed right now, a school could have anywhere from 4 to 10-percent of its enrollment added or subtracted through the various CBP factors. Those percentages could change in the future however should an OHSAA investigation warrant it. No additional voting would take place at that time. The numbers would be totally up to the discretion on the OHSAA.

Overall the proposal itself seems too complicated despite the OHSAA’s constant reassurance that it’s kid-friendly.

“People in our school and community are confused about the proposal,” Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary athletic director Andy Jalwan said. “Obviously the OHSAA and the Blue Ribbon Committee that spent over a year studying this issue have a lot more information than the average person on our coaching staff or in our school. (But) I believe it is a very complicated and multi-faceted issue that even after explaining it to the best of my ability people still seem confused.”

“I don’t think this is needed,” Burchfield said. “Is our system absolutely fair? Probably
not, but I don’t think it ever can be. Will Competitive Balance make the perennial loser more competitive? No way. The Competitive Balance people will use statistics like X% of state championships have been won by an inordinate amount of private schools. That may be the case, but it is a skewed statistic. Out of those X championships, the majority of those have been won by a relatively few number of teams (Newark Catholic, St Ignatius, Benedictine, etc).”

Despite the fact no one knows exactly WHAT to do, statewide the vibe is that personnel know WHY something is being done…The “R” word: Recruiting.

Every year the OHSAA deals with numerous cases of student transfer and eligibility issues. So much so that sometimes it becomes unfathomable. Numbers of schools are found guilty, but apparently not enough for the masses.

“People are ticked because they think the private schools cheat and that’s why they’re so successful,” Hart said.

“The things that the OHSAA needs to address are the underlying problems of this proposal,” Delphos St. John’s football coach Todd Schulte said. “In my opinion this can of worms has been opened because of the idea of recruiting. This proposal is (the OHSAA’s) answer to not having to deal directly with recruiting. Instead of putting every school in the same boat, if they feel that there is truly an advantaged gained at a certain school, then they should go to that school and find out what is making that school so much better than the rest. To me this has more of a feel of simply private vs. public. If the OHSAA really thinks that some private or public school is bending the rules to be successful, then they should be at that school asking questions.”

Said Chagrin Falls football coach Mark Immarino: “The real question is ‘Where do your players come from?’”

Goodwin had another angle.

“Yes (something needs to be done),” the Coldwater AD said. “But what needs to be addressed is the kids changing schools at BOTH public and private schools. The issue is not private schools winning too much. The issue is kids that are juniors and seniors switching schools for the sole purpose of playing a sport at another school. This is happening in both public and private schools. That is what needs addressed.”

 “The goal was to address a competitive balance issue, when in reality I feel that the committee ended up addressing a ‘winning issue,’” Jalwan concluded. “From the very start of this entire debate I feel that it was fueled by public schools who had their seasons ended in the OHSAA postseason tournament by non-public schools. In all honesty, I admit that there are advantages that non-public schools have but I also believe there are advantages public schools have as well.

“I have heard that 16% of the OHSAA membership is made up of non-public schools but that they account for 46% of the state championships. Well, what is the appropriate number? If non-publics only won 16% of the championships…is that when we would have actual competitive balance?”



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: Did anyone even really want this? And if so, does this even answer why we’re talking about it?

Friday: Coming…

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