Separation of the Ohio High School Athletic Association's public and non-public schools during the postseason is off the table -- at least for now.
On March 22, the OHSAA announced the referendum that could have forced separate tournaments has been replaced on its May ballot by the third competitive balance proposal in as many years.
While the previous two proposals featured a sport-by-sport athletic count based on tradition, socioeconomic factors and school boundaries, the latest one centers on school boundaries.
The OHSAA board of directors voted 9-0 to place the new referendum on the ballot for schools to vote on from May 1-15. If it passes by a majority, it would go into effect in August 2015.
If the latest competitive balance option fails, the group of administrators from Wayne County that introduced the referendum to split public and non-public schools for postseason tournaments could reintroduce separation again in 2014.
Non-public schools make up about 17 percent of the OHSAA's membership.
The OHSAA originally formed a competitive balance committee in January 2010.
"We kept working and working to make it become a reality," said Dave Rice, the superintendent of Wooster Triway Local Schools who was a part of the Wayne County group. "We totally support the new alternative and believe it's a much better option than separate tournaments."
During a conference call minutes before the Northland boys basketball team played Mentor in a Division I state semifinal March 22 at Ohio State, OHSAA commissioner Dan Ross used the Brookhaven boys basketball team as an example of how the new system would work.
"Let's take Columbus Brookhaven, for example," Ross said. "If they have 10 kids on their freshman, 10 on the (junior varsity) and 10 on their varsity teams, basketball would be a 30. If 20 of those live in the Brookhaven attendance area in Columbus, 10 would come from other areas like Centennial, Northland, (Columbus) South (and) Independence. The 10 outside the boundary would then be multiplied by five. If Brookhaven's enrollment number is 400, for basketball Brookhaven's number would be 450."
That number would help determine the division in which the team competes.
Proposals that called for all OHSAA tournaments to be conducted separately for public and non-public schools were defeated 83.9-16.1 percent in 1978 and 66-8-33.2 percent in 1993.
A competitive balance proposal was defeated 332-303 (52.3-47.7 percent) in 2011. Then in 2012, a slightly revised competitive balance proposal was defeated 339-301 (53-47 percent).
The previous two competitive balance proposals included a tradition factor that was based on periods of postseason success on a sport-by-sport basis and a socioeconomic factor based on how many students were in a free-lunch program.
Under the latest proposal, each school will submit to the OHSAA, through an online system, team rosters that will indicate each student's name in grades nine through 12 who are participating along with their district school of residence.
Every student on a team's roster whose district of residence is outside the district or attendance zone of the school he or she is attending will be multiplied by an out-of-district sports specific factor.
The sports specific factor will be applied in football, soccer, girls volleyball, basketball, baseball and softball. The board of directors also is considering the use of the athletic count for the state team wrestling tournament.
The factor will be different for each sport and dependent on the number of tournament divisions for that sport.
The current sports specific factors being considered are two for football and five for sports with four divisions.
Schools will begin their seasons not knowing the division in which they will compete for each of the team sports that will have a sport-by-sport athletic count.
"We've been working on it for several months and I honestly believe the petition will be signed by our member schools," Ross said. "Both of the last two proposals had three parts, with tradition, socioeconomic and boundaries and enrollment. This proposal has nothing to do with tradition and socioeconomics. This one centers on where kids come from."