The Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association met last week in Columbus as the Ohio High School Athletic Association offices.
OHSAA Commissioner Dr. Dan Ross spoke to the group of media on hand. Several items of note to me:
• Ross said there was a time when the OHSAA Appeals Board rarely overturned a previous decision. Ross said 10 years ago if there were 100 appeals, “99 or 98 were denied.”
Nowadays, that’s not the case. “If a rule is in place in 1978, if you enforce that rule in 2016 are you really doing everybody a favor?”
Ross said one of the biggest reasons cases go to the appeals board in the first place is lack of information.
“If they shared the same information with the compliance board as they do with the appeals board, they would probably be declared eligible,” said Ross.
Most people don’t want potentially “embarrassing” information to get out in the public, information like foreclosure or abuse, Ross said. So when going to the compliance board they’ll keep information under wraps and hope to get a favorable decision. When they get to the appeals process, people are more likely to be totally honest about their situation.
• Among the items which may be voted on by the OHSAA include eligibility ending when a student-athlete turns 20 years old. Ross said there would not be cutoff date if someone turns 20 by a certain date. The student is eligible at 19 but not at 20. Also, a 15-year-old in the eighth grade could have the option of playing at the high school level but could only do so for a total of eight semesters, so that student would likely be ineligible when he or she is a senior.
• Ross said the OHSAA does not look at video to get an officials call overturned. However, the organization would use video to determine if a player ejection was just.
“The only time we are going to look at that is if an official or school gets a hold of us stating the starting quarterback who got ejected for a second time, which puts him out, it wasn’t the starting quarterback who threw the punch. It was the wide receiver,” Ross said.
Ross noted the confusion could occur because of similar uniform numbers between players involved and the video clears that matter.
• Ross said the OHSAA would like to ink a long-term contact with the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason for the state tennis tournament. The long-time OHSAA leader gushed over the facilities at the Warren County site.
• The state football championship is set for Stark Co. in 2017 and 2018 then back to Ohio State in 2019 and 2020. Ross said construction at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton could be an issue for the 2017 games but is confident things will be wrapped up then.
In 2019, Ross said the NFL will be celebrating 100 years and the OHSAA wouldn’t likely be able to host state titles game in Canton or Massillon that year.
• 7- or 8-player football is being looked at by the OHSAA along with archery as future championship sports. Some smaller schools are pushing for the 8-player football because they aren’t able to compete at a high level in 11-player football. The OHSAA also has been asked to include rodeo as a sanctioned sport.
• Ross said spring football “is not going to happen,” at least in the near future. The cumulative effect of concussions is a primary reason to avoid spring football. Spring sports, battling a numbers crunch in many areas, could also be hurt further by spring football.
• Attendance at state tournaments during the 2014-15 school year was down. “If we had two or three years like last year, we’d probably have to ask schools to play a membership fee and the catastrophic insurance fee,” said Ross.
Some states, Ross pointed out, charge schools as much as $2,000 in membership fees and another $250 entry fee to participate in each sport’s state tournament. The catastrophic insurance fee can be as much as $5,000. Ross believes if schools were forced to pay the insurance fee, some sports would have to be eliminated to cover the costs.
• With cold and rainy weather greeting spring sports this season, Ross said some schools over the years have asked to have the spring sports start-up dates moved more into April to avoid the questionable weather of March. However, with school calendars pretty much going from early August to late May, the option of moving spring sports even a week can cause problems.
Schools have told Ross having a state championship in mid-June would cause serious damage to many teams. Once a school has dismissed students for the year — prior to Memorial Day for many institutions, Ross said — coaches believe the students would have “checked out” and lost focus on the athletic teams.
• There is discussion in the political ranks about requiring high schools to have defibrillators on campus to help in medical emergencies. Ross said he is hearing one would be required but he is in favor of having two. “It’s not going to happen to just athletes,” said Ross.
In addition, the emergency action plan each school is supposed to have is rarely — if ever, said Ross — practiced. Ross said a late-night practice involving a single-coach team where the only other adult on site might be “the custodian that coach has never met.”
“What if the coach goes down at 8:30 at night?” Ross said. “This is something everybody needs to do. Take 10 minutes with every team (in every sport) and go over what you do (in case of an emergency).”
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, or on Twitter @wnjsports.