Opting Up to Division I Among Referendum Items Approved for Spring Vote

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Five referendum items have now been approved by the Ohio High School Athletic Association Board of Directors to go to the member schools for a vote this spring, including a proposal that would allow schools to move up to Division I on a sport-by-sport basis if they desired to do so for that season.

Additional referendum items could be approved by the Board at its March meeting. The OHSAA’s annual referendum voting period is May 1-15 and an affirming vote by a majority of the membership is the only way that an OHSAA bylaw or Constitution item can be added, deleted or changed. The OHSAA staff will conduct update meetings in each district in April to explain the referendum items that schools will be voting on.

If passed, Issue 1B would allow a school to apply to the OHSAA within two weeks of the start of the season to move up to Division I in that sport for the postseason tournament. Previously established divisional assignments for all other schools would not be affected if one or more schools move up to Division I, meaning schools would not get moved down a division due to an increase in the number of schools in Division I. If requested for individual sports, all the participants for that school would participate in the same division for that sport. For example, if the proposal passes, some student-athletes for a school could not opt up to Division I while others stay at a lower division.

“We’ve had a number of schools ask for permission to do this, but it is currently not allowed per Bylaw 2-1-1,” said OHSAA Executive Director Doug Ute. “This referendum proposal is the only way to see if the majority of the membership is in agreement that schools should be able to move up if they would like to that season, for any number of reasons.”

If the referendum item passes, the OHSAA would determine if any changes are needed to the tournament representation process, which is used to determine the number of schools in each division in each district that advance to the district, regional and state tournaments.

The full text of Issue 1B and other referendum items are detailed at: https://www.ohsaa.org/School-Resources/referendum-voting

The other four referendum items are as follows:

–         Issue 2B would address the transition of athletic eligibility between grading periods and amend the OHSAA’s definition of a school day to not include calamity days, where school is cancelled due to weather or similar circumstances.

–         Issue 3B would allow for additional situations in which a mid-season transfer student could be eligible to participate at a new school in the same season, specifically when there is intervention of children’s services that places a student in a new school less than 50 miles away from their former school.

–         Issue 4B would allow for mid-season transfers to be fully eligible at the new school in the same season but only at the sub-varsity level and only if the student met the requirements of an exception to restore full transfer eligibility.

–         Issue 5B would allow schools to travel out of state for practice purposes only, which is currently not permitted unless their normal practice facility is located out of the state. It would also allow schools to travel to non-bordering states for practice or other team activities if the trip is approved in advance by the OHSAA office and it counts as the school’s one permitted non-bordering state trip that season.  The proposed issue also clarifies that schools are permitted to miss school time at their discretion when they exercise their one-time travel to a non-bordering state option.

Any additional referendum items may be announced in late March.

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