May 16--Many burning questions were addressed by Ohio High School Athletic Association Executive Director Jerry Snodgrass during an annual meeting with a panel of media members Thursday.
One involved the status of the state girls' basketball tournament, which will vacate the Schottenstein Center at Ohio State in March 2020 because of a scheduling conflict that weekend. The state wrestling tournament will take place there March 13 to 15. The boys basketball tournament will occup the building the following weekend.
"Our hands were tied because we can't have anything in Columbus the weekend before (March 5 to 8) because of the Arnold (Sports Festival)," Snodgrass said. "That's a huge event and there's hardly any hotel availability. Having three state tournaments that weekend (ice hockey being the third) is going to be tough, but it's just the way the calendar fell."
OHSAA officials are keeping their fingers crossed that they can move across Lane Avenue to St. John Arena, but nothing has been finalized. The possibility remains that Ohio State will not want to rent out the facility.
Other options might be the Nutter Center at Wright State University or -- more remotely -- the soon-to-be-christened Covelli Center at Ohio State. The facility, which has a capacity of 3,700, was built to accommodate the Ohio State wrestling, men's and women's volleyball and men's and women's gymnastics teams. The Covelli Center is significantly smaller than the OHSAA desires and it i is unknown if it would even be available.
Yet another conflict has forced the state baseball tournament from Huntington Park -- where it has been held since 2009 -- to Canal Park in Akron for at least the next two seasons. This year's tournament will be June 7 to 9. The stadium, which hosts Cleveland's Double A minor-league affiliate Akron RubberDucks, was unavailable on Thursday, forcing a Friday through Sunday format.
"The Clippers used to be able to hold specific dates to accommodate us, but the International League no longer is allowing that practice," Snodgrass said.
The football state finals remain on a year-to-year basis with Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton hosting in 2019.
"Nothing has been determined or discussed beyond that," Snodgrass said. "I'm not opposed to going back and forth (from Canton to Ohio Stadium). A lot has to do with the sites and availability. I'm sure other venues will make bids as well."
• The OHSAA's annual referendum included only one item of significance.
Member principals, by a 553-253 vote, voted to tweak the rostering process used to determine the sport-specific competitive balance factor.
Instead of counting all athletes in grades 9 to 12, the system now will factor in only tournament-roster players, or those who played in varsity contests. The exception is in football, as all players in grades 10 to 12 will be counted. As a result, the Tier 2 penalty will be slightly more punitive to balance the fomula.
"Without test runs, there's no way to tell what the impact might be, but hopefully some of the smaller schools who are dropping kids from programs to keep themselves in a lower divisions will cease from doing that," OHSAA Senior Director of Operations Bob Goldring said. "Critics of our original plan argued that some non-impact kids who never play varsity were being factored in. We do not want to deter participation or have kids being cut because of competitive balance. With this change, schools will have to be more diligent about who is participating in games, in so far as them being counted."
• Snodgrass said he is keeping a close eye on a proposed federal budget bill that would grant F1-class foreign students the opportunity to attend non-public schools for multiple years. Those same students are limited to one year of eligibility, however, at public schools.
"This is all about tuition fees and bringing money to the schools," he said. "Our hands are tied on this. The reason we're watching this so closely is that if this goes through, we fear that it will only be a matter of time before high-impact athletes will be coming from overseas to play basketball and from Canada to play ice hockey. ... that sort of thing."
• Boys volleyball may be the next sport to be sanctioned by the OHSAA, but Snodgrass said doesn't anticipate it happening for at least two seasons.
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