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November 27, 2014

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Competitive balance issue fails again in OHSAA vote

Thirteen of the 14 proposed Ohio High School Athletic Association Constitution and Bylaw revisions passed as voted upon by OHSAA member schools, Commissioner Daniel B. Ross, Ph.D., has announced.

Changes were approved to three Constitution items and 10 Bylaw items.

The bylaw issue that did not pass for the second consecutive year was a proposal to change how schools are assigned to tournament divisions in the team sports of football, soccer, volleyball, basketball, baseball and softball to address competitive balance.

Rather than place schools into OHSAA tournament divisions based strictly on male or female enrollment, a proposal to develop a sport-by-sport athletic count would have used enrollment as the initial factor and then potentially added enrollment based on a boundary factor (how a school secures students) and a tradition factor (sport-by-sport success in reaching the regional and/or state tournament over an eight-year period), and then potentially lost enrollment based on a socioeconomic factor (the number of students involved in the free lunch program).

The athletic count proposal to address competitive balance in OHSAA tournaments failed 339 to 301 (53 percent to 47 percent). A similar proposal failed 332 to 303 (52 percent to 48 percent) in May 2011.

"As was the case last year, we anticipated the vote would be close," Ross said. "We tried the Competitive Balance Committee's proposal two years in a row but the schools have spoken. I don't anticipate getting the committee back together and bringing another proposal back to the membership, but at the same time I don't anticipate competitive balance going away since this issue has engendered a lot of conversation among a lot of people. It's an issue that a lot of state associations across the country are also dealing with and working on.

"I want to give special thanks to the Competitive Balance Committee, which was made up of school people, and those on our staff who worked on the proposal," Ross said. "A lot of time and effort was put in to try to help make the proposal fair for all schools with the ultimate goal of ensuring that it was a proposal that made our tournament system better for the student-athletes in Ohio."

All 14 proposals in 2012 were placed up for referendum vote by the OHSAA Board of Directors. High school principals had between May 1 and 15 to cast their votes, and a simple majority is all that is required for a proposed amendment to be adopted. The referendum issues that passed become effective August 1 unless noted.

The complete final voting results are available on the OHSAA web site (www.ohsaa.org), and the 2012-13 Constitution and Bylaws will be posted on the site sometime in late June or early July.

A Review of the 2012 OHSAA Referendum Issues

Constitution 5-6-1, Powers and Duties of the Board of Directors - Adds as part of the powers and duties of the Board the ability to suspend membership of a school from the Association.
570 in favor; 63 opposed

Constitution Article 7, District Athletic Boards - This change stipulates that district athletic board members must be working full-time in a member school or schools and that those working in an Educational Service Center would not qualify unless the person is working directly in a member high school. A revision also gives a district athletic board some flexibility in starting the process to replace a board member who no longer meets the requirements to serve on the board.
577 in favor; 56 opposed

Constitution Article 5-6-1, Powers and Duties of the Board of Directors - This permits the Board of Directors to appoint an Appeals Panel that would have exclusive jurisdiction over matters pertaining to student eligibility. Should such a panel be appointed, decisions by the panel would be final and bylaws could not be waived, amended or set aside and must be applied as written. Effective June 1, 2012.
554 in favor; 79 opposed

Bylaw 2, Classification (Competitive Balance) - This would have added a bylaw whereby each school would be placed into tournament divisions based on its sport-by-sport athletic count. The formula for determining athletic counts and to which sports the counts shall be applied would have been recommended by the standing Competitive Balance Committee and approved by the Board of Directors on a biennial basis. The formula for calculating athletic counts and the sports to which they are applied would have been listed in the General Sports Regulations - Tournaments. Effective August 1, 2013.
339 opposed; 301 in favor

Bylaw 4-3-4, Enrollment and Attendance - Adds the notion that a student who does not attend any school for a semester(s) due to withdrawal shall have that semester(s) count in the total of eight that are permitted.
596 in favor; 35 opposed

Bylaw 4-4-1, Scholarship - Clarifies that in the statement that says "In order to be eligible in grades 9-12, a student must be currently enrolled and must have been enrolled in the school the immediately preceding grading period . . .", the word 'immediately' refers to the school's immediately preceding grading period as opposed to the last grading period during which the student attended any school.
607 in favor; 26 opposed

Bylaw 4-6-3, Residence, New Exception 8 and Move Exception 4 from Bylaw 4-8-1, International and Exchange Students, to Become Exception 9 - New Exception 8 permits a student who is a U.S. citizen to retain eligibility when his or her parents are deported from the United States and the student maintains continuous enrollment in a member school. Exception 9, moved from Bylaw 4-8-1, does not change and grants eligibility to a student whose parents are citizens of the United States but reside outside the U.S.
579 in favor; 53 opposed

Bylaw 4-7-2, Transfer, Amend Exceptions 1 and 2, Delete Exception 3 - Exceptions 1 and 2 are rewritten for clarity and simplification. Exception 1 will now stipulate that if a student is compelled to transfer due to a bona fide move by both parents, the Commissioner's Office may consider a waiver of the one year of ineligibility if it is satisfied that the transfer was not athletically motivated. Consideration may also be given to parents who are divorced or are in process of divorce or were never married. Exception 2 stipulates that when custody changes between parents, the office may grant the waiver if it is determined that the change was not athletically motivated. The OHSAA may also consider a change of custody to a non-parent in cases of neglect, abuse or delinquency. Exception 3 is rolled into Exception 1 and is no longer necessary. Effective June 1, 2012.
596 in favor; 39 opposed

Bylaw 4-7-2, Transfers, Exception 6 - This amends Exception 6 to clarify that the transfer into the public high school in the parents' residential district may be used only if the parents have been residents of that school district for at least 90 days; clarifies that the exception cannot be used when the student is moving from the district of one parent in a "shared parenting agreement" to the district of the other, and clarifies that the student transferring into a district with multiple public high schools shall be eligible only at the high school in the attendance zone or, if there are no defined zones and the student attends a "magnet school," the student may not use this exception after the sophomore year. Effective June 1, 2012.

550 in favor; 81 opposed

Bylaw 4-7-5, Transfer - With an increasing number of students transferring from one school into a poor performing school and then immediately back out to another school under the provisions set forth in this bylaw, this clarifies that such multiple transfers do not fulfill the underlying purpose of this bylaw and shall be denied. Effective June 1, 2012.
582 in favor; 47 opposed

Bylaws 4-7-6 and 4-7-7, Transfer - Clarifies that a definitive description of the exact programmatic change that is motivating the student's reassignment is now required prior to the request for eligibility so that a correct decision can be made in accordance with this bylaw. A list of those programmatic changes will be provided by the Commissioner's Office so the membership will know which will be considered and which will not. Effective June 1, 2012.
557 in favor; 72 opposed

Bylaws 4-9-3 and 4-9-4, Recruiting - Clarifies what actions are considered recruiting for athletic purposes as well as those actions which are permissible. Bylaw 4-9-3 provides a list of "mass marketing" endeavors which would be compliant with the bylaw, while Bylaw 4-9-4 provides a list of endeavors which would not be compliant but provides an exception by permitting schools to provide a small token to students who "shadow" or visit a member school upon contemplation of enrollment so long as the value does not exceed $25 and the item is not related to the school's athletic program.
523 in favor; 104 opposed

Bylaw 10-2-1, Forfeiture (Exception) - Rewords the exception by saying that if a student participates in an athletic contest and his or her eligibility has been established by falsified information, the student shall be declared ineligible (see Bylaw 4-1-2), but forfeiture of the contest may not be required. Using "may" rather than "shall" leaves the OHSAA Office with discretion to still require forfeiture(s) in the event a school does not do its due diligence or has been complicit with the falsification.
587 in favor; 45 opposed

Bylaw 11-1-2, Penalties - Increases that maximum amount in which the OHSAA could fine a school per occurrence for violation of the OHSAA Constitution, Bylaws and Regulations as imposed by the Commissioner's Office to $10,000, which hopefully will serve as a deterrent and would be used in the most egregious cases.
471 in favor; 158 opposed

825 ballots were mailed, 645 ballots were returned (78.2 percent)

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