Being approachable and compassionate might not have been job requirements when Dan Ross took over as executive director of the Ohio High School Athletic Association in 2004, but that could change a few months from now.

The relational leadership he provided the last 14 years might fit well into a textbook on the subject.

On Jan. 18, Ross, a 1967 St. Charles Preparatory School graduate who spent 47 years in a variety of educational roles that included teacher, coach, principal and superintendent, announced his resignation, effective Sept. 15.

The skills he possesses were perhaps at their best when he faced his biggest test as OHSAA commissioner a few years into his tenure.

With superintendents from Wayne County calling for a referendum vote to separate public and non-public schools for the postseason beginning in 2009, Ross took the threat seriously enough to seek the middle ground we now know as competitive balance.

His heart of being a communicator then went into full force as committees were formed and he held numerous town-hall meetings and press conferences.

Although the implementation has had its share of detractors, his biggest goal of keeping public and non-public schools together was met.

The next commissioner also will have lots to live up to in regard to the growth of the OHSAA.

During Ross' tenure, the organization has sanctioned club sports in boys and girls bowling and boys and girls lacrosse.

Another of his dreams was to spread the excitement of prep sports at the state's highest level to those with disabilities.

In 2013, the OHSAA added seated events to the state track and field championships, and it has been a win for those participants and for those in attendance from an inspirational standpoint.

The OHSAA has found other ways to be inclusive during Ross' tenure.

The state football finals were held in Canton and Massillon for more than two decades before central Ohio got another chance to play host to the games in 2014. The state finals were held at Ohio Stadium three consecutive years before moving to Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton last fall.

Playing at Ohio Stadium, as well as moving the state boys and girls tennis tournaments to a first-rate facility in Mason, was part of his goal to provide athletes with the most memorable experiences possible.

Also during Ross' tenure, the OHSAA added a seventh division in football in 2013, providing an opportunity each year for one additional team to experience a state championship.

During a question-and-answer session with ThisWeekSPORTS.com in 2015, just a few months before Ross suffered a massive heart attack in November of that year that sidelined him for a few months, he said the thing he loved most about his job was "dealing with kids."

For Ross, that meant encouraging what he called "education-based athletics."

Using sports as a teaching tool will serve Ross' successor well as the OHSAA decides whether it's in its best interest to sanction new sports, as well as how it can lift currently sanctioned sports that consistently lose money out of the red.

That philosophy also will come in handy as the OHSAA tries to grasp the climate of club sports, which seem to be growing stronger by the decade.

Whenever a decision by the OHSAA is looming, one never has to question Ross' attitude toward the people with whom he is dealing.

The next OHSAA commissioner inevitably will run into adversity and crises. When things get really tough, he or she should follow Ross' lead when it comes to being relatable.

That almost certainly will help any negotiation or tough situation go just a little more smoothly.

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek