The Suburbanite
  • OHSAA still working on an alternative to separation

  • Deborah Moore, the Ohio High School Athletic Association associate commissioner, said there still is supposed to be a referendum vote in May on whether to separate state championship tournaments for public and nonpublic schools.

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  • For the better part of half her speech before the Pro Football Hall of Fame Luncheon Club, Deborah Moore talked about the 40th anniversary of Title IX.
    Then the Ohio High School Athletic Association associate commissioner got the group’s attention at Tozzi’s on 12th.
    In May there is supposed to be a referendum vote on whether or not to separate state championship tournaments for public and nonpublic schools. Moore said there will be a vote, but there may be a change in the wording.
    She emphasized “may.”
    “We may pull it if we come up with an alternative solution,” Moore said. “We are working on this around the clock as we prepare for our other state tournaments. What exactly it would be at this point, I don’t know.”
    Moore provided no details, but said OHSAA Commissioner Dan Ross has been talking with Triway Superintendent Dave Rice about an alternative referendum issue.
    However, Rice, who led a group of Wayne County superintendents to research the separation issue and then worked to get a petition signed and the issue put to a referendum vote, said he is planning on member schools voting on separation in May.
    “There are on-going talks about what else can be done, but there is nothing in the works,” Rice said. “There is separation in May on the ballot, and we’re moving forward.”
    The OHSAA presented two proposals on competitive balance and member schools narrowly defeated both issues the last two years.
    “That committee worked for two years to put a couple of things out there, and both failed,” Rice said. “We went in this direction. … All we can do is put it out there and let them vote.”
    To change the ballot now means the OHSAA is up against a deadline. Moore said there is a board meeting during the boys state basketball tournament that is held every year to “tie up loose ends” and another referendum could get approval then.
    The core issue on competitive balance is the amount of success nonpublic schools have in state tournaments.
    “Right now, you should say to your readers separation is on the ballot,” Moore said. “It would be disingenuous for me to suggest we’re not trying to work with them. Our commissioner is resolute that he would like to get a solution that doesn’t involve the drastic measure of separation. If we don’t get there, it will get on (the ballot) and we will present information to our members on the consequences.”
    Moore said OHSAA’s decision to expand football to seven divisions does help competitive balance, but that it only helps in football. One consequence could be for nonpublic schools to leave the OHSAA and start their own association. If separation does pass, the OHSAA would have to have the funding to hold two state tournaments in 24 sports.
    Page 2 of 2 - Twice before the separation issue came to a vote by member schools and it was defeated. However, the margin shrank and OHSAA polling a few years ago showed the issue was closer than before.
    “Everyone wants to have some certainty in their life,” Moore said. “We’re afraid of the consequences of separation. You have to have some vision. You have to look at more than just football and basketball. You have to look at what would come. What would the economic impact be? Would there be legislative intervention? What are we looking at down the road? No one can predict that.”

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