Fenwick takes competitive balance hit in football; moves up to D-III

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Fenwick takes competitive balance hit in football; moves up to D-III

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Fenwick starts getting geared up for a Sept. 8 game at Lebanon. It was won by the host Warriors 49-27. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Fenwick is the only area football program to take a hit in the revised competitive balance figures for the upcoming football season. A Greater Catholic League North Division member, the Falcons were bumped up from Division IV to D-III.

That wasn’t unexpected. Fenwick missed the cutoff for being lumped in D-III last season by one boy.

“Obviously, it’s a hot topic, especially among many of the Catholic schools who are taking the brunt of the whole competitive balance movement,” Fenwick athletic director Michael Coleman said on Monday.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association announced the revised divisions for the fall sports of football, volleyball and soccer on Monday. This fall will be the second school year for the OHSAA’s competitive balance to be enacted. Also affected and announced at a later date are basketball in the winter and baseball and softball in the spring.

No other area team moved up or down in football other than Fenwick. That means Midwest Athletic Conference rivals Coldwater and Marion Local are still lumped in D-VI for football. Both are multiple state football champions, but in different divisions.

The most area changes were in soccer, which has three divisions each for boys and girls. Among the girls, Butler was the only area girls team to go from D-II to D-I and Urbana bumped up from D-III to D-II.

In area boys soccer, Franklin went up to D-I and West Carrollton dropped to D-II. Also, Milton-Union went up to D-II.

There were no area changes for girls volleyball, which has four divisions.

Fenwick (6-4) won its last five football games but finished No. 9 in D-IV, Region 16, missing the playoffs by one position. The Falcons were led by interim coach John Aregood.

“I don’t think their formula is fair and equitable across the board, especially for the small- and medium-sized Catholic schools,” Coleman said. “Now that it’s happened, you can see that it’s really had an impact on (those) schools.”

Competitive balance was the most publicized initiative that was spearheaded by out-going OHSAA Commissioner Dr. Dan Ross. It’s a numerical formula assigned to every player on all rosters of affected sports. That determines divisional placement for the postseason.

Differing multipliers are used that affect the numerical total. For public school students, that is affected by whether a parent resides in an assigned school district. For non-public students, that multiplier is affected on where the student started seventh grade.

Competitive balance values are adjusted each spring and announced throughout the following school year. There is one significant change for the 2018-19 school year. Previously, teams could be bumped up just one division. Now, teams can be moved more than one division.

It’s possible for teams to not be affected by competitive balance, yet have their divisional alignment adjusted because of movement by other teams. That was the case for Coldwater, which dropped from D-V in football.

Ohio’s competitive balance effort is among many similar efforts that have been instituted throughout the country, which has spiked in the last two decades. The main issue was addressing the perceived unfair advantage private schools had over public schools in drawing potential athletes.

A groundswell of support started in Ohio when a report was released by Northeast District superintendents in Wayne County that cited a disproportionate number of state championships won by private schools – which accounted for just 14 percent of OHSAA membership – during a 10-year period.

• Dr. Ross announced his retirement – effective Sept. 15 – last week. Speculation immediately began on his successor.

It’s a given some of the OHSAA administrators or any of the 11 executive board members will have interest in the position. That includes board president Paul Powers, the athletic director of Aurora City Schools.

OHSAA administrators are Deborah Moore (on staff since 1989), Bob Goldring (’95), Steve Neil (2005), Roxanne Price (’06), Jerry Snodgrass (’08), Tim Stried (’08), Jeff Jordan (’11) and Beau Rugg (’12). It was Goldring who served as acting commissioner in 2016 while Dr. Ross recovered from illness.

No timetable has been announced to fill the position.

COMPETITIVE BALANCE

Fall sports affected: Football, soccer, girls volleyball.

Football: Fenwick up to D-III.

Girls soccer: Butler up to D-I; Urbana up to D-II.

Boys soccer: Franklin up to D-I; West Carrollton down to D-II; Milton-Union up to D-II.

Girls volleyball: None.

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