Sports Extra with Dave Ross: OHSAA media group back together again

Sports Extra - With Dave Ross

I’m the senior member of the Ohio High School Athletic Association Media Advisory Committee which meets annually to discuss tournament media procedures and concerns. COVID derailed our 2020 and 2021 sessions, so we hadn’t assembled at the OHSAA in Columbus since 2019 when we finally met nine days ago.

Our statewide group represents radio, TV, newspaper, and the internet. We’re joined by appropriate OHSAA staff led by Director of Media Relations Tim Stried. My presence is not only due to ongoing sports media involvement but also prior service as a Media Coordinator for football playoffs at Sidney Memorial Stadium.

My fellow current members may differ on individual subjects but we all strive for professionalism and fairness in the OHSAA media process. I was delighted to reconnect with my colleagues, some of whom I’ve known for several decades.

At each meeting we hear from the Association’s Executive Director (Commissioner) on timely topics and are then afforded an “on the record” question and answer forum. This was our first such session with former longtime teacher, coach, and administrator Doug Ute at the helm. Ute is the third straight OHSAA chief to be friendly, thorough, and forthcoming in dealing with the media. Prior to Dan Ross, Jerry Snodgrass, and now Ute, the relationship and performance were not as strong. I’ll be generous and leave it at that.

First on the agenda was the recently defeated referendum item regarding high school athletes being able to profit from the commercial use of their name, image, and likeness. Ute did not feel the issue would pass but felt it important to get a firm count on where 800+ Ohio high schools stood. “I’ll admit I didn’t foresee a more than two-to-one defeat,” Ute opined. “Some states allow this, and others may follow. We’ll see what happens nationally including how the NCAA fine tunes its policy. Though it may not be soon, it will come up again in Ohio.”

Last fall the football playoffs doubled in size with 224 more teams and 112 additional games, meaning that a robust majority of the 700+ football schools made the postseason party with the addition of an extra round. While some blowouts resulted when the expanded teams engaged higher seeds, there were many good games and some upsets. “More kids got to experience the football playoffs and we netted an extra $850,000,” which Ute termed a “win-win.”

Speaking of finances, the head man says things are improving. “Revenue is again growing coming out of COVID. We’ve reduced our staff from 26 to 20 and we’re making that work. For instance, I’m also the administrator for both boys and girls basketball. The picture is getting brighter.”

A very pressing concern involves attracting and retaining game officials in many sports. “We’re getting our member schools involved to create interest and provide classes, training, and a path to certification. Some are offering officiating courses with physical education credit.”

Sites for state championships are always of interest. “We seek venues that deliver a ‘wow’ factor and are affordable,” Ute stated while citing numerous facilities including the University of Dayton Arena for basketball. “They really want us there. It’s a big time NCAA arena.” He confirmed that Ohio State has continuing difficulty in offering basketball dates for both the Schottenstein Center and St. John Arena. Looks like basketball is staying in Dayton.

“Canton has stepped up to keep the football finals by saving us (substantial money in a reworked contract). Besides that, Ohio State has shown no interest to bring those games back to Columbus,” he responded to an item of concern in this part of Ohio.

Ohio State is hosting wrestling (now both genders) at the Schott, and track at Jesse Owens. “Great venues and the relationship is solid for those activities,” Ute concluded.

Sports Extra

With Dave Ross

Sports Extra appears each Friday. Dave Ross has been involved with the OHSAA and its tournaments since 1976.

Sports Extra appears each Friday. Dave Ross has been involved with the OHSAA and its tournaments since 1976.