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The Ohio High School Athletic Association will be adding a seventh tournament division in football beginning in 2013, Commissioner Daniel B. Ross has announced. The addition of a seventh division was approved by the OHSAA's Board of Directors by a 6 to 3 vote during its regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday.
The plan will place the top 10 percent of schools based on enrollment in Division I, with the remaining 644 schools divided evenly among the next six divisions. This will leave 72 schools in Division I with the other six divisions averaging approximately 108 schools.
Each of the seven divisions will continue to qualify 32 teams to the tournament. Currently, the six OHSAA football divisions are comprised of an average of 120 schools per division.
The plan for adopting an additional division was in response to a concern by some OHSAA member schools about the enrollment disparity that exists in Division I, where the current range is 494 males at the lower end of the division to 1,164 at the top.
Based on current enrollment data, the lower end of Division I would increase to 600 males. Committee meetings were held to address the issue and the recommendation to add a seventh division came from the committee.
"Adding a seventh division not only helps address the enrollment disparity in Division I, but it also will create 32 more tournament opportunities for student-athletes, their schools and their communities, many of which have never or rarely experienced the playoffs," Ross said. "The committee members believe that this is an issue unique to football, especially since not all schools qualify for the OHSAA football tournament."
A separate committee, comprised of OHSAA Board and staff members, school administrators and officers of the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association, will be formed to finalize the details of this plan. Among the details to be determined: adjustments to the Harbin
Computer Ratings with the addition of another division; regional breakdowns and assignments for Division I, and dates in which specific divisions will play their tournament contests, including logistics of an additional state tournament contest.
Approval of an "athletic count" formula, which is included within a competitive balance proposal that OHSAA member school principals will vote on during the annual referendum process that will occur between May 1 and 15, would also be factored in before placing schools into their respective tournament divisions.
The next two-year cycle for reassigning schools to tournament divisions begins in the fall of 2013.
Based on current enrollment figures, a sample of the football tournament divisional enrollment ranges when adding a seventh division would be (again, keeping in mind that this will change before the 2013 season): Division I - 600 to 1,164; Division II - 410 to 599; Division III - 288 to 409; Division IV - 216 to 287; Division V - 159 to 215; Division VI - 114 to 158, and Division VII - 30 to 111.
The current football tournament divisional enrollment ranges, which run through through 2012, are: Division I - 494 to 1,164; Division II - 327 to 493; Division III - 243 to 326; Division IV - 172 to 242; Division V - 120 to 171, and Division VI - 30 to 119.
This is the first time the OHSAA has expanded the number of football tournament divisions since 1994, when a sixth division was added. Five years later, the number of tournament qualifiers in each division expanded from 16 to 32.
When the tournament first began in 1972, there were three football tournament divisions, and expansion to five divisions occurred in 1980.