Ohio is unique nationally in its competitive balance plan for high school sports

Posted at 6:00 AM, Mar 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-09 19:45:46-05

CINCINNATI – The type of competitive balance that arrives this fall will be unique to Ohio high school sports.

As the Ohio High School Athletic Association prepares to implement a competitive balance plan for the upcoming fall sports season, you won’t find another state with a similar plan, according to OHSAA Commissioner Dr. Dan Ross.

OHSAA Commissioner Dr. Dan Ross.

This competitive balance plan was passed in May 2014 after three previous attempts failed as a referendum item.

In Kentucky, there have been no competitive balance measures recently discussed by the Board of Control, according to spokesman Joe Angolia.

RELATED: Area schools offer perspective on Ohio's competitive balance plan.

The Indiana High School Athletic Association is in its fourth year of competition under the provisions of Rule 2-5, which provides for a reclassification of schools in team sports based on their previous tournament success, commonly known as the “success factor.”

RELATED: Is separation of public and private schools inevitable for Ohio tournaments?

Schools are assigned a point value for the final level of the tournament series (sectional championship up through state championship) during a previous reclassification period.

If a school has moved up more than one classification in a sport and does not maintain the level of success to remain in the class, it may move down one classification during reclassification cycle.

“We do not institute a multiplier to determine classifications,” IHSAA Commissioner Bobby Cox said. “The provisions of Rule 2-5 are applicable to all IHSAA member schools that are classified below the largest classification of enrollment.” 

Ohio considered a success factor, but it the referendum vote failed in 2011.

“Too many of our schools -- at least at that point -- believed that a success factor was a punishment for being good,” Ross said. “And so I don’t necessarily think that’s what a success factor is but we removed it. And it’s something that certainly can be in a conversation later on. I think that piece is probably one that merits a conversation.”

Some states use socioeconomic factors. California has a complicated formula that combines success, residence of the students and students on a free lunch.

Other states have used a flat multiplier in order to address the perceived inequity among private or non-boundary schools.

In Illinois, a multiplier was put in place for private schools for about a decade to determine their postseason class. A success component was added for private schools, according to Matt Troha, Illinois High School Association assistant executive director.

“In a team sport, if a private school qualifies for the state finals twice in four years with one appearance coming in the last two years, then they are automatically bumped up on class,” Troha told

Ross said Ohio did not want to place a flat multiplier on non-public schools.

“Whatever we were going to do for competitive balance, we wanted to do the same thing for the public schools as well as the non-public schools,” Ross said. “We just thought that was the fairest.”