A group of high school sportswriters held their annual meeting for the OPSWA and Ross made sure to talk about and field questions about the new competitive balance issues in high school sports.
“The question I get a lot is, “Is that what you were expecting?,” Ross said. “We expected with the number of divisions in football and the number of schools in each of those divisions there would be more movement and we knew the ones that were close to the top or the bottom would see more movement.”
As the dust settled, many schools from around the state saw movement in both football and volleyball. In all, 75 schools moved up a division in football and 51 moved up in volleyball. It is the first time in high school sports that a state has implemented competitive balance and Ross was proud to put to rest the suggestion of separating public and non-public schools on an athletic field.
“Right now, we are the flagship,” Ross said. “We are getting a lot of comments from other states who are watching this and wanting to see how it works. It is not just an Ohio problem. Other states are talking about how they need to spilt (Public vs non-public) and we thought playing together was what was best.”
Ross admitted he was happy with the way things turned out in the first season but was surprised by one event.
“The biggest surprise for me was I didn’t think about the schools where the enrollment number went down and they dropped a division because of that enrollment number, but their competitive balance factor bumped them back up. We didn’t even think about that possibility, but now we will keep an eye on those situations.”
The OHSAA has a two-year agreement with how to run the competitive balance and Ross admits after the second year, the OHSAA will meet again to try to make things even better for every school involved.
“We will bring the committee back together in the fall about a month into the season and go over the ramifications,” Ross said. “We will look at if there is anything that needs to be changed. We won’t change the formula without going back to the schools first. We would really like to do is look at the system after two years and get back together and go over the tweaks and any kind of changes we would like to make and test those out. It would also give the schools a chance to give suggestions.”
“We will look at if the factors are appropriate. Football is factor two. One of the suggestions was to make the factor five. If you did that, you could see schools jump two divisions because of the roster size in football and the size of the divisions. It is five for all of the other schools because the divisions have so many more schools in them.”
Ross was also asked about some unexpected actions that could happen depending on a different situation. Ross was asked about what happens if a coach cut a fringe player who could go against the competitive balance number. Ross said that was a situation talked about and shouldn’t be tolerated.
“We have had a lot of conversations about that too,” Ross said. “On the other side, as a former superintendent for a long time, if I had a coach do that to a youngster, it would be the last time that coach was there. Our goal is to give these kids a chance to play no matter what. But you cannot legislate ethics.”
Ross was also asked if competitive balance would trickle down to all sports.
“We started with all of the team sports,” Ross said. “The other sports are more individual sports than they are team. We wanted to focus on how the team sports worked and we thought at the beginning, if we did all of the sports, it would be very overwhelming.”
He also addressed why competitive balance is for the previous year’s enrollment numbers.
“We wanted to do it for the season that was about to start,” Ross said. “That didn’t pass. Coaches and Athletic Directors needed to know what division they were going to be in sooner. We decided to make it a year in the rear and make it count towards the previous season.”
The OHSAA also has a list of things going up for vote on May 1. Those issues include membership to the OHSAA, a new transfer bylaw for special situations, boys and girls teams playing against each other and honoring game contracts.
There will also be conversations on different situations about competitive balance. The OHSAA will talk about how to count international exchange students, allowing the feeder schools to be every school in the county and allowing schools to move up more than one division.