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OHSAA Expansion Proposal Will Go to Board of Directors Thursday

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Doug Ute, Ohio High School Athletic Association Executive Director, has announced that he will make a proposal to the OHSAA Board of Directors on Thursday (Feb. 15) at the board’s regularly-scheduled February meeting to amend General Sports Regulation 17, which determines how many tournament divisions should be used for each sanctioned sport.

The proposal follows months of discussion with the board and six recent regional meetings with member schools in each of the OHSAA’s athletic districts. The board could approve all of the proposal, none of the proposal, certain parts of the proposal, or delay all or parts of the proposal to a future meeting. For any parts of the proposal that are approved, the board will also determine the year of implementation.

The proposal affects the sports of soccer, girls volleyball, basketball, softball and baseball. The board will continue to discuss additional sports, noting several recent meetings regarding track and field.

“Ohio is the fourth-largest state in our country in terms of the number of schools, but in many cases, our number of divisions don’t reflect that size compared to smaller states,” Ute said. “Any time you can give more kids the opportunity to have a postseason tournament run and get their communities engaged and excited, that’s a good thing, and we don’t believe that having more state champions waters down the significance of winning a championship. This proposal is membership-driven in terms of the feedback I’ve received since becoming the executive director in 2020 and I have been talking about this concept with our board for almost a year now. The majority of the feedback we received from the regional meetings that we just completed was positive about expansion.

“This proposal finally addresses the enrollment disparity in Division I and Division II, where the largest schools are sometimes three times larger than the smaller schools in the same division,” Ute said. “We anticipate expanding the number of divisions will be a revenue-neutral change, so this is not driven by money. We will certainly need to restructure the tournaments and add host sites, etc., which will take time and work by our staff, district athletic boards and member schools.

The proposal does not include any expansion to the football postseason, which is already at seven divisions. In addition, any changes to the current deployment of the Competitive Balance process would need to be voted upon by OHSAA member schools during the annual referendum voting process.

Each year, the Board of Directors would still have final authority in determining how many divisions to be used that school year, but the proposal calls for the following scale to be used to guide the board’s decision on the number of divisions for girls volleyball, football, soccer, basketball, softball and baseball, however note that the sports of lacrosse, field hockey, ice hockey and boys volleyball would not change from their current division numbers:

   199 or fewer teams: 1 Division

   200 to 299 teams: 2 Divisions

   300 to 399 teams: 3 Divisions

   400 to 499 teams: 4 Divisions

   500 to 599 teams: 5 Divisions

   600 to 699 teams: 6 Divisions

   700 and more teams: 7 Divisions

For girls volleyball, soccer, basketball, softball and baseball, the largest 64 schools would be placed into Division I. The next largest 64 schools would be placed into Division II. The remaining schools would be divided as evenly as possible into the remaining divisions. The OHSAA already does something similar to this in football, in which the largest 10 percent of schools are placed into Division I and the remaining schools are divided evenly in Divisions II through VII.

The proposal does not call for a change to the formula that the OHSAA uses for individual sports to determine the number of student-athletes required for team designation, which includes five in bowling, five in cross country (who score for their team at the district tournament), four in golf, three in girls gymnastics, seven in swimming and diving, four in tennis, nine in track and field and seven in wrestling.

The proposal calls for the following number of divisions to be used for individual sports:

   200 or fewer teams: 1 Division

   201 to 450 teams: 2 Divisions

   451 to 700 teams: 3 Divisions

   701 and more teams: 4 Divisions

OHSAA member schools vote to determine any changes to the bylaws or constitution via the referendum process each spring. Member schools also vote for representatives for their District Athletic Boards, who are then selected to serve on the State Board of Directors on a three-year term. The Board of Directors are then charged with reviewing and approving the General Sports Regulations on behalf of the OHSAA membership. The OHSAA General Sports Regulations do not go to the member schools for voting and are posted at: https://ohsaaweb.blob.core.windows.net/files/Sports/GeneralSportsRegulations.pdf

If the increased number of divisions is approved by the board, the OHSAA will announce structural and dates changes for future state tournaments at a later date.

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