The setup for Ohio high school tournaments remains the same for now, thanks to a move by the Ohio Supreme Court on Monday.
The Ohio Supreme Court has granted the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s motion for emergency stay of enforcement of a temporary restraining order issued in Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas.
On Monday, the Supreme Court further stayed all proceedings in the Hamilton County action while it considers the merits of OHSAA’s complaint. The restraining order, which was issued earlier this month, was regarding a component of the OHSAA’s Competitive Balance process as it applies specifically to Roger Bacon High School and the other seven members of the Greater Catholic League Co-Ed Division.
OHSAA executive director Jerry Snodgrass said earlier this month that if the courts rule against the OHSAA, the organization would have to scramble to readjust tournament division assignments for all member schools.
The Competitive Balance process determines how schools are assigned to postseason tournament divisions in football, soccer, volleyball, basketball, softball and baseball. Enrollment figures are combined with the competitive balance factors to generate a tournament enrollment number for each school before they are assigned to an OHSAA postseason tournament division.
“We understand that this case isn’t over, but we are encouraged that the Ohio Supreme Court heard our complaint and intervened,” Snodgrass said. “This means that we are currently planning to move forward with our schools’ tournament assignments in football, soccer and volleyball as approved by our Board of Directors in January 2018.
“Competitive Balance was voted into place by our member schools in 2014 and there is a process in place that they can seek a change to a bylaw. We will continue to strongly defend the bylaws that our schools have adopted and have the opportunity to amend or change.”
Last Thursday, the OHSAA filed a complaint for a writ of prohibition with the Supreme Court, contending that the issuing judge does not have jurisdiction to decide the underlying claims against OHSAA, as the OHSAA is a private association and its member schools are volunteer members who vote on their own Bylaws and Constitution.
The hearing scheduled for Tuesday in Hamilton County is now canceled and the Ohio Supreme Court has set a briefing schedule to consider the merits of OHSAA’s complaint. A date has not been set for when the Court will make a decision.
“We are pleased that the Ohio Supreme Court has stayed enforcement of the TRO and has taken jurisdiction to hear the merits of our case,” OHSAA lawyer Joe Callow said. “As we said before, we do not believe that courts can interfere with the internal affairs and application of the bylaws of the OHSAA, which were duly adopted by the member schools.”
The OHSAA’s complaint to the Ohio Supreme Court contends that Judge Ruehlman does not have the jurisdiction or authority to issue a TRO prohibiting the OHSAA from implementing the adopted bylaws of the voluntary members of this unincorporated private association. Judge Ruehlman’s TRO had prevented the OHSAA from implementing a component of the Competitive Balance formula as it applies specifically to the GCL Coed Division, but the ruling impacted schools throughout Ohio.
In addition to Roger Bacon, members of the GCL Co-ED Division include Kettering Archbishop Alter, Dayton Carroll, Middletown Bishop Fenwick, Cincinnati Purcell Marian, Hamilton Badin, Dayton Chaminade-Julienne and Cincinnati Archbishop McNicholas.
The lawsuit has no effect on regular season schedules, which are now underway. However, if the OHSAA is not ultimately successful in its appeal, it could require the divisional assignments to be recalculated mid-season for those sports that are affected by Competitive Balance.