By Garth Shanklin
Nearly three full years after its approval, the Ohio High School Athletic Association released the first set of divisions compiled partly using the competitive balance process on Thursday, April 6.
Previously, schools were placed in divisions based solely on total number of students. That is still a part of the process, but now certain sports also take the competitive balance numbers into account.
Throughout 2016, schools submitted roster data to the OHSAA, which is then used as part of a two-part formula to determine divisional alignments in football, soccer, volleyball, basketball, softball and baseball.
In football, no Clermont County teams will change divisions in 2017 as a result of the data, though both Amelia and Glen Este are listed as Division II schools. When the schools merge into West Clermont this fall, the Wolves should move up to Division I, but that won’t be official until August 30, according to Amelia athletic director James Collins.
Regional assignments and the playoff format for football are scheduled to be announced by the OHSAA on June 6.
Other sports also had their divisional alignments announced, and a few county teams are changing divisions. In girls’ volleyball, Bethel-Tate moves up a division from III to II in 2017, though the move is due to total enrollment numbers, not the competitive balance numbers.
Felicity-Franklin would have moved up to Division III based solely on the enrollment data, but once the competitive balance numbers were factored in, the Lady Cardinals remained in Division IV.
Bethel-Tate also moves up from Division III to II in boys and girls” soccer based on enrollment numbers. Clermont Northeastern moves down to Division II from III in boys’ soccer for that same reason. CNE was already Division III in girls’ soccer.
Divisions will be adjusted every year in the sports that use the competitive balance numbers. Other fall sports, like golf, tennis and cross country will continue to be updated every other year.
The new enrollment numbers changed some division alignments in those sports as well. New Richmond’s girls’ golf team competed in Division II last season, the Lady Lions will be in Division I in 2017. The Lions’ boys team moves from Division II to Division I.
In boys cross country, Clermont Northeastern moves from Division III to Division II. Goshen moves from Division II to Division I.
On the girls’ side, Bethel-Tate moves to Division II from III. The Tigers’ boys team was already in Division II. Clermont Northeastern’s girls squad also makes the jump to Division II.
The formula that the OHSAA uses to calculate the competitive balance number combines information from the submitted roster data along with base enrollment numbers. The initial enrollment count (grades 9-11 in a school) is added to the additional roster count. The additional roster count is determined by multiplying each student on the team by one of three tiers.
The tiers themselves differ depending on the type of school, but the basic determination comes down to where the student lives and how long they have lived there. If a student in a single-high school district lives with at least one parent in the district, they are tier zero. If they have not, but have maintained continuous enrollment in the district since 7th grade, they are tier one. If they have not, they are tier two.
Schools with multiple high schools in the district, like Amelia and Glen Este, use an additional question to sort tier zero from tier one. The process is different for non-public schools.
Tier zero students are multiplied by zero, tier one students are multiplied by one, and tier two students are multiplied depending on a sport specific multiplier. For football, the multiplier is two. Volleyball, baseball, softball and basketball have a multiplier of five, while the multiplier for soccer is six.
Those numbers are added up and then added to the base enrollment data. That number is then used by the OHSAA to determine divisions.
“This is a journey that we have been on for more than eight years to get to this point,” Dr. Dan Ross, OHSAA Commissioner, said in a press release.“[The] approval of the fall sports divisional breakdowns is the result of countless hours of work by our staff and our member schools. For the first time in OHSAA history, enrollment isn’t the only factor in determining a school’s division in certain sports. But the journey isn’t over. We will study the results of this first go-around and discuss with the Competitive Balance Committee and the board.”
Bethel-Tate Local Schools seemed to be the most affected by the changes, with several sports moving up a division as a result of increased numbers. Bethel-Tate athletic director Matt Koenig attributed the increase to two specific things: improved performances in the classroom and on the field.
“Bethel-Tate Local Schools is improving academically,” Koenig said. “It says a lot about our administration, who are hiring quality teachers that are working hard to give our students a good education and making the district more appealing for those students moving here or coming as open enrolled students.”
Bethel-Tate athletics has seen growth on the field as well. Just this past winter, both basketball teams won at least a share of the conference title and the wrestling team advanced to the state quarterfinals.
“Our athletic programs are improving tremendously,” Koenig said. “We have coaches working harder and harder to make their programs more competitive. We have the highest number of athletes in the last five years participating in our programs. With some of the recent coaches changes, we are getting some good quality coaches interested in coming here to build a program.”
Koenig added that he believes the resulting move up in division is a “good problem” for the district to have, noting the coaches and players will have to work harder to continue their run of success.
“In a way it is not favorable that a few of our teams have to move up a division, but it is what it is,” Koenig said. “There is not a lot we can do to change that. Overall, I see it as a good problem that students and parents want to attend Bethel schools. Our athletes and coaches are going to have to work that much harder to get prepared for different competition. With anything else, it is a challenge that our programs will prepare for and our coaches will have our athletes ready to compete.”