Bob Huelsman
Bob Huelsman

Bob Huelsman is a former high school teacher, coach and administrator, serving for more than three decades at Covington High School, in Miami County. In his 13 years as head basketball coach at Covington, Huelsman won 228 games and five times guided the Buccaneers to the regional round of the state tournament. Currently, he serves as the associate athletic director at Newton High School, and treasurer for the Southwest District Athletic Board. A former member of the Ohio High School Athletic Association Board of Control, Huelsman’s broad background in athletic administration has won the respect of his peers statewide.

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What to do about public and private schools tournaments?  Can we just compete for a unified title, or does everyone deserve a trophy?

The separation of public and private school tournaments has been written about on numerous occasions.  It is still there, behind the scenes, and headed for a collision soon!

If you recall, the superintendents in northeast Ohio (Wayne County) wanted something done about the disparity between public schools and private schools, their ability to win state championships, the level of the playing field, competitive imbalance, etc.
These superintendents sent out a survey in late 2009 asking for input from all Ohio superintendents. The results showed that almost 70% thought there was a competitive imbalance, and 72.5% said they would support a separation of public and private school tournaments, both sanctioned by the OHSAA.

There are 831 OHSAA member schools—700 public (84%) and 131 (16%) non-public.

From the beginning of the 1999-2000 school year through the 2009-10 school year, there were 616 state championships. The private schools won 275 (45%) of these championships.

Breaking this down, it looks like this:
   Football—66 state championships—31 (47%) won by non-public schools
 Volleyball—44 state championships—28 (63%) won by non-public schools
 Boys Soccer—33 state championships—15 (45%) won by non-public schools
 Girls Soccer—22 state championships—11 (50%) won by non-public schools
 Boys Basketball—44 state championships—14 (31%) won by non-public schools
 Girls Basketball—44 state championships—23 (52%) won by non-public schools
 Wrestling—30 state championships—21 (70%) won by non-public schools
 Baseball—40 state championships—20 (50%) won by non-public schools
 Softball—40 state championships—3 (1%) won by non-public schools

Based on these statistics, it appears that there is an inequity in the OHSAA tournament structure.

The OHSAA put off the Wayne County Superintendent Initiative by forming a committee to study the “problem”. The Competitive Balance Committee studied the “problem”, and put forth a Competitive Balance Solution that was put up for a referendum vote to the OHSAA membership. Albeit close, the Competitive Balance Solution was defeated.

The OHSAA put it back into the hands of a sub-committee to survey the member schools to see why the issue failed, with promises to reconvene the entire Competitive Balance Committee upon completion. The meeting was scheduled for December 8, 2011.

The sub-committee reviewed the results and made a decision to take a recommendation straight back to the OHSAA and its board of directors, and not reconvene the entire committee, as promised, on December 8, 2011. The recommendation was to forget the original competitive balance proposal and to concentrate on the Division I Football disparity in enrollment.

This did not sit well with the Wayne County superintendents, especially because promises were not kept, and because it looked like the Competitive Balance Issue was dead on arrival. They made their voices heard when they promised to move ahead with a proposal to separate the tournaments.

The Wayne County superintendents asked the OHSAA to place the issue of separate tournaments for public and non-public schools on the ballot for May’s OHSAA referendum issues pursuant to Articles 8-1-2 and 8-1-8 of the current OHSAA Constitution and/or Bylaws.

Their proposals are as follows:

Proposal #1:  Separate state championship tournaments in all OHSAA sponsored sports.
a.  No divisional structure change for public schools. (The OHSAA Board of Directors will make the final determination on divisional structure.)
b. New divisional structure for non-public schools. (The OHSAA Board of Directors will make the final determination on divisional structure.)

Proposal #2:  Public schools can only play Ohio non-public schools if the Ohio non-public school is a member of OHSAA.                

The OHSAA reacted by calling a special meeting of the original Competitive Balance Committee for Tuesday, January 31, to discuss the matter.

The Wayne County superintendents reacted by sending a letter to the OHSAA Board of Directors, and not to the Competitive Balance Committee, stating that “it is the responsibility of the board of directors to respond, not this committee.” They want a response from the board of directors, and not waste the time of this committee. They feel they are beyond the committee at this point.

“It is the last step before signature petitions are required to get a referendum issue on the ballot. Once again, (we) intend to hold the board of directors accountable to reply to (our) request. This is not a committee issue at this point in (our) opinion.”

The “ball” now sits in the lap of the OHSAA Board of Directors.  The question is…”What will they do with it?”

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