Revised March 26, 2019

Traditionally, high school football teams were assigned to specific divisions based on the overall school enrollment.  That is, the largest schools were classified as Division 1, the next largest as Division 2 and so on, with the schools distributed evenly among the selected number of regions as determined by the OHSAA.

Recently, several superintendents were disgruntled with the domination of state championships by the private schools and proposed that the OHSAA separate the playoffs.  Given that the OHSAA would not support this, a compromise solution was developed and then implemented for the 2017 season.  In essence, an adjustment would be made to each school’s counted enrollment based on the number of football players that did not live in the school’s district.

Each roster player, freshman through senior, would be assigned a classification of Tier 0, Tier 1 or Tier 2.  For public schools, a Tier 1 player is an open enrollment student that enrolled in the school district prior to the 7th Grade.   A Tier 2 player is an open enrollment student that entered the district in the 7th Grade or after.  All other students are presumed to be residents of the school district’s geographic boundary and would be classified as Tier 0.

For private schools, A Tier 0 player is a student that attended a private grade school that was designated by the high school as their preferred parish.  A Tier 1 player is one that attended a private grade school since the beginning of the 7th Grade.  All other players are classified as Tier 2.

For 2017, the amount added to the school’s counted enrollment was “0” for Tier 0 players, “1” for Tier 1 players and “2” for Tier 2 players.  In that most private schools were significantly affected by this new rule, several moved up one or two divisions.  For example, Akron Hoban moved up from Division 3 to Division 2 and Toledo Central moved up from Division 4 to Division 2.

On February 14 of this year, the OHSAA released a number of referendum items that were approved by the administrators and will be voted upon by the school superintendents later this year.  Included among these is Issue 2B – Change in Additional Roster Count Makeup – Bylaw 2-2-2, 2-2-6.  This issue modifies the Competitive Balance formula in two ways.  First, the adder for Tier 2 players increases from “2” to “3.”  Second, freshman players are not considered in the calculation, unless they participated in a varsity football game the prior year.  The adder for many other sports was also changed, such as for baseball and basketball, which increased from “5” to “7.”  An exception to the private school classifications was included whereby if the school has a defined enrollment boundary, then all students that reside within the boundary would become Tier 0 if enrolled in one of the district’s private schools from the beginning of the 7th Grade and Tier 1 of enrolled after.

The OHSAA stated that these changes are being proposed based on feedback from the various schools.  For one, freshmen do not necessarily have much impact on tournament games.  Secondly, coaches may exclude transfer students from their freshman teams to massage the adjusted number downward.  Also, schools may elect not to field freshman teams.

The original release of this story, lacking specific Tier numbers for each school, assumed that for all schools 30% of the affected players would be Tier 1 and the remaining 70% would be Tier 2.  However, additional research was conducted using roster sizes for specific schools and back-calculating the competitive advantage numbers.  The belief is now that this assumption was incorrect, particularly for the private schools.  A better assumption would be as follows:

  • Public Schools: 70% Tier 0, 10% Tier 1, 20% Tier 2
  • Private Schools: 10% Tier 0, 60% Tier 1, 30% Tier 2

These numbers work well for most private schools.  However, a few have Tier 2 percentages are significantly higher, including Toledo Central and Akron St. Vincent.  With the new adder Central would remain in Division 2, while St. V could move up from D3 to D2.

Surprisingly, and by using this new assumption, the school assignments for both Divisions 1 and 2 would remain virtually unchanged.  Note: The effect on the lower divisions was not evaluated.