- Associated Press - Friday, May 16, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The question of competitive balance - weighing the alleged advantages that private schools have over public ones in Ohio high school athletics - has reached a new stage.

The state’s high schools have voted to accept a new plan intended to level the playing field between public and private schools, modifying how schools are placed in tournament divisions in eight team sports.

Similar plans were voted down three times before. This one passed by a margin of 411-323 with three abstentions. It will take effect during the 2016-17 school year.

“I’m most proud that we were able to work together and come up with a solution that will create a better system than we currently have,” said Dan Ross, head of the Ohio High School Athletic Association, which oversees sports rules, records, eligibility and tournaments in the state.

He said the difference in the latest rendition of the competitive-balance plan will work “because it looks at how schools secure the enrollment of their students participating in interscholastic athletics.”

Enrollment has been the only factor in deciding a team’s division in tournament play. Now where athletes’ parents reside and each athlete’s educational-system history will also be considered.

The new rule applies only to boys’ football, soccer, basketball and baseball and girls’ soccer, volleyball, basketball and softball.

OHSAA member schools passed 14 revisions to the organizing body’s bylaws. High school principals had between May 1 and May 15 to cast their ballots, with one issue before the seventh- and eighth-grade principals. A simple majority is required to adopt the proposal.

One, making it mandatory for schools to return a ballot, ended in a virtual tie. The totals will be recounted next week.

Ballots were mailed to 820 high schools, with 737 voting (including one ballot that was declared invalid).

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