OHSAA: Bob Goldring to help set course during turbulent time
Bob Goldring’s week started with a scheduled vacation day.
It ended with an intense spotlight on Goldring, the veteran Ohio High School Athletic Association administrator who was named interim executive director July 6, and countless questions about the immediate and long-term future of high school sports amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
“Saying this has been a whirlwind would be an understatement,” Goldring said July 8. “It’s been two days of whirlwind, catching up and trying to set priorities ever since.
“That part has been kind of overwhelming, but on the same token it signifies that what I like to do is get in the trenches, try to solve problems, talk to the right people and get things organized. I haven’t really taken a step back to think wholly about the entire picture of what we’re facing.”
Goldring, who had been the OHSAA’s senior director of operations for almost 12 years and has been with the organization since 1995, takes over for Jerry Snodgrass, who was voted out by the board of directors after two years as executive director.
Goldring is tasked with steering high school sports into the fall after several winter postseason tournaments and the entire spring season were lost to the pandemic, as well as guiding the organization back from a resulting shortfall of about $2 million. The OHSAA instituted layoffs and Snodgrass voluntarily took a 25% pay cut.
“The difficult thing is our member schools expect answers. They want to know what’s going on and what’s the direction, as does the general public,” said Goldring, who also served as interim executive director for three months in 2016 while former executive director Dan Ross dealt with health issues. “Unfortunately the way the pandemic is, we can’t give all the answers right now.”
The next board of directors meeting is scheduled for Thursday, July 16.
Goldring said that as of July 8, there was no interest in flipping fall and spring sports, a rumor that has been discussed frequently on social media. He did not commit to a timeline for any firm announcements on the fall, although he said in an email to member schools July 7 that the OHSAA was operating as if fall practices will begin Aug. 1 as previously scheduled and tournaments will be held for all 10 sanctioned sports.
Earlier that day, the Ohio Department of Health announced that games and tournaments were permitted for contact sports through July 15 provided a set of requirements were met. Those included testing of players and coaches for the coronavirus before and during competitions as well as daily symptom assessment.
Athletics trainers were to wear masks, and coaches doing the same was “strongly recommended.”
The order coincided with The Basketball Tournament at Nationwide Arena.
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted also announced July 7 the start of the #IWantASeason social media campaign, aimed toward young people spreading the message that preventive measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus may help sports proceed as normal in the fall.
A Columbus Dispatch report July 7 indicated through two anonymous sources that Snodgrass was ousted at least partly because of personality conflicts within the OHSAA office that led to low morale and shouting matches.
When reached via text by ThisWeek, Snodgrass declined to comment about being relieved of his duties. He spent 12 years with the OHSAA and has had a 31-year career in education as a teacher, coach and administrator.
Sentiment on social media heavily swung in favor of Snodgrass from administrators, coaches and fans across the state when the news of his ouster broke.
Dublin Jerome athletics director Joe Bline has known Snodgrass since the 1980s, when Bline played for and later coached with the Newark boys basketball team and Snodgrass coached at Findlay.
“He wouldn’t bump you off to somebody else. He would always take time to answer your question,” Bline said. “Being a former coach and athletic director carries a lot of weight with coaches and athletic directors. … You just want a straight answer sometimes. He’d always shoot straight and be honest.”
New Albany athletics director Richie Wildenhaus called Snodgrass “a great mentor” and lauded his advocacy for new sports, including boys volleyball and girls wrestling, and his transparency.
“Any AD in the state could personally text Jerry about any kind of question, whether it is an eligibility question, a rules question or anything, or quite frankly just to connect,” Wildenhaus said. “Anybody who steps into that role, that needs to be part of their job, advocating for athletes, coaches and athletic administrators across the state.”
Acknowledging that the safety of coaches and athletes is the OHSAA’s top priority, Goldring expressed some frustration that final decisions aren’t ready to be made.
“It’s an ever-changing process with this pandemic. We’re doing everything we can to prevent a repeat of the ending of our winter tournaments and the cancellation of the entire spring. We want to explore all options,” he said. “We’re on the track of believing that come Aug. 1, our practices will begin. But obviously that has a big asterisk because we all know we can be heading left, and then the next thing we know we’re heading right.”