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OHSAA members vote to allow schools to move up to Division I by request

May 16—The Ohio High School Athletics Association put six potential revisions to its constitution and bylaws in front of member schools this month, and all six passed.

Most notable is Issue 1B, which allows smaller schools to move up to Division I if they choose to. This would be on a sport-by-sport basis and comes in the wake of the OHSAA opting to expand the number of divisions in most team sports, including basketball.

"We are all interested to see how many schools request to move up to Division I," OHSAA executive director Doug Ute said in a news release.

Schools must notify the OHSAA by June 3 if they want to move up, a quick turnaround Ute said is necessary because of potential changes to divisional alignment that could result.

"With the expanded divisions in several sports, our goal is to have as close to 64 schools as possible in Divisions I and II, so we may have some adjusting to do in some sports if several Division II schools make the request to move up to Division I."

Rules defining a school day, related to residency, governing midseason transfers and out-of-state practices also were adjusted as a result of the voting.

Here is the language of all six referendum issues:

ISSUE 1B — New Exception to Bylaw 2-1-1 — Alternative Divisional Assignment

This exception allows schools to request a move up to Division I on a sport-by-sport basis for one sports season. If desired, the request must be received by the OHSAA Executive Director's Office by the established deadline. If requested for an individual sport, all athletes on that school's team must compete in Division I.

ISSUE 1B PASSED 560 to 217 (38 abstained) — effective date August 1, 2024

ISSUE 2B — Modify Bylaw 4-6-2 — Residency

This modification absolves school administrators from enforcing the Residency Bylaw (i.e. ensuring the student has a parent living in Ohio) for a particular student once that student is subject to custody orders involving child protective services, social services or a similar state agency.

ISSUE 2B PASSED 761 to 39 (15 abstained) — effective date August 1, 2024

ISSUE 3B — Modify Definition of "School Day" Within Bylaw 4-4-3 — Restoration and Removal of Scholastic Eligibility

This modification addresses the transition of athletic eligibility between grading periods and amends the OHSAA's definition of a school day to not include calamity days (where school is cancelled due to weather or similar circumstances).

ISSUE 3B PASSED 719 to 73 (23 abstained) — effective date August 1, 2024

ISSUE 4B — Modify Exception to Bylaw 4-7-3 — Midseason Transfer

There are currently two exceptions which will allow a student to play the same sport for two different schools during the same season, but both exceptions require the schools to be at least 50 miles apart. This modification alters the second exception when a student transfers to a different school midseason due to the death or incarceration of the student's parent(s) or the intervention of Children's Services or a similar government agency. If such a situation transpires, the modification allows the Executive Director's Office to restore full transfer eligibility at the new school even if it is less than 50 miles from the former school. The new language waiving the midseason 50-mile requirement does NOT apply to "standard" custody transfers (i.e. parent to parent custody changes without children services intervention).

ISSUE 4B PASSED 745 to 58 (12 abstained) — effective date August 1, 2024

ISSUE 5B — Modify Bylaw 4-7-3 — Midseason Transfers

This modification allows for midseason transfer students to be fully eligible at a new school in the same season at the sub-varsity level only, provided that the student meets the requirements of a transfer exception to restore full eligibility. The change does not permit a student who has played for the varsity team at the school from which they are leaving (or if there has not been a distinction between varsity and sub-varsity competition) to gain sub-varsity eligibility at the school to which they are transferring. Lastly, this modification does not permit the Executive Director's Office to grant eligibility for the OHSAA postseason tournament in the sport impacted by the midseason transfer.

ISSUE 5B PASSED 562 to 229 (24 abstained) — effective date August 1, 2024

ISSUE 6B — Modify Bylaws 9-2-1 and 9-2-2 — Contests with Out-of-State Schools

This modification allows schools to: 1.) travel to bordering states or provinces an unlimited number of times strictly to practice without prior approval from the OHSAA Executive Director's Office; and 2.) travel to a non-bordering state for practice purposes only one time per sports season with prior approval from the OHSAA Executive Director's Office. The previous language only permitted teams to practice while out-of-state if they were also participating in a contest(s) during that trip. Additionally, the new language clarifies that schools are permitted to miss school time at their discretion when they exercise their one-time travel to a non-bordering state or province.

ISSUE 6B PASSED 692 to 86 (37 abstained) — effective date August 1, 2024