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Ohio Courts Strikes Down Part Of OHSAA's 'Competitive Balance' Formula

High school football player during the national anthem.
Senior Airman Naomi Griego
U.S. Air Force photo

The Ohio High School Athletic Association says it's been told by a judge to stop using part of its competitive balance process.

A press release from the OHSAA says the Court of Common Pleas in Hamilton County issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting the athletic association from utilizing part of the process that a majority of Ohio schools approved in 2014.

Traditionally, Ohio high school athletic teams were divided solely by enrollment, so small schools played other small schools, and large urban districts faced each other. But relying on only enrollment often pitted rural districts with less money against small but well-funded private schools.

The competitive balance changes also included factors such as where a school’s students live, and how many receive free lunches. The end result was many small private schools with few students either living nearby or getting free lunches were bumped into tougher divisions and forced to play larger schools.

The legal challenge came from St. Bernard Roger Bacon High School, a Catholic school in Hamilton that was forced to move from Division V to Division IV.

The press release from the OHSAA says the ruling was specific to St. Bernard and other members of the Cincinnati Greater Catholic League’s co-ed division, but it is still expected to have statewide implications.

“We were advised this afternoon of the court’s TRO,” said OHSAA Executive Director Jerry Snodgrass in an emailed statement. “Although the court’s ruling was specific to one conference, the OHSAA is an organization that emphasizes treating all of our member schools fairly and consistently, so we will work diligently with our staff, Board of Directors and general counsel to determine the best course of action in light of the TRO.”