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.


The issue of  “Competitive Balance”, if it passes.  Which makes the question of separating public and private schools all the more important.  Is it “what’s best for the kids?”

You have heard it all before—the disgruntlement over private schools winning too many OHSAA tournaments, public schools not playing on a “level” field, recruiting, the threat of separating the tournaments, the counter-threat that non-OHSAA schools would not be permitted to play OHSAA schools etc.

Once again, it is coming to a head.  A vote of the membership will be taking place soon to determine the issue of “competitive balance”.  This is the second go around for this issue, and may very well be its last.

Or is this issue like a school levy—run it until it passes?

Although the OHSAA has done everything in its power to explain the issue, it still remains quite confusing, benefits some but not others, and even the people trying to deliver the message are stumped by a questioning audience.

It is hard to vote “yes” on an issue as confusing as this, especially not knowing the result if it does pass.

The real problem lies in what happens if it fails.  There still remains the public school officials in the northeast portion of Ohio who want the separation, the small private schools who want the separation, and the Catholic/Christian Schools, who do not want to be placed in an unfair situation, and would rather have the separation.

There are a number of small private schools in southwest Ohio—namely, Cincinnati Country Day, Summit Country Day, Miami Valley, Seven Hills, to name a few.  There is even a larger number of small Christian  schools—namely, Troy Christian, Dayton Christian, Xenia Christian, Emmanuel Christian, Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy, etc. The majority of these schools would also like the separation.

Why?  Because “they march to a different drummer”, the OHSAA rules and regulations do not fit their philosophy, and to conform to the OHSAA rules create hardships for some of their students.

As an example, the small private school brings in international students (not exchange students), whose parents live in China and elsewhere. These parents pay for these students to attend for many years in the states, but because the parents are not citizens and do not live in Ohio, they are not eligible to participate in OHSAA athletics.

These small private schools start recruiting (a dirty word in some circles) their students at a very early age. Their livelihood depends on it.  Yes, they are recruiting these children as students first, but they want the child to have a total school experience. This includes art, music, drama, and athletics.  Right now, they can do all but athletics.

If the division ever takes place, the OHSAA may be willing to run both the public and the private sectors.  I am not sure if the private sector would want the OHSAA to run their sector because the rule book would still be the same—recruiting, open enrollment, transfer, residency etc.

One private school athletic director told me that the real separation should be between open enrollment schools and closed enrollment schools—not public and private.  He also felt that the OHSAA has done a tremendous job in trying to be fair, trying to keep the Association together, and working towards a solution that all schools can “buy into”.

The problem lies in trying to put a square peg into a round hole!