OHSAA approves expansion, now set to add more divisions in 2024-25

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The Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) Board of Directors has unanimously endorsed a proposal to implement a revised formula for determining the number of divisions in postseason tournaments following months of extensive discussions and meetings across the state. The decision, made Thursday morning, marks a significant overhaul impacting various sports categories within the OHSAA General Sports Regulation 17.

Under the approved plan, girls and boys soccer will transition to five divisions, while girls volleyball, girls and boys basketball, softball, and baseball will now comprise seven divisions. Notably, both Division I and Division II in these sports will include only 64 schools each.

Scheduled to take effect in the fall of 2024, the new divisional framework aims to foster greater parity among participating schools, leveling the competitive landscape in OHSAA tournaments, according to Doug Ute, the Executive Director of OHSAA.

Ute expressed his support for the board’s decision, emphasizing its significance in rectifying disparities that have long persisted within OHSAA competitions.

“It’s the right thing to do for the student-athletes who have been competing at this disadvantage,” Ute remarked. “For too long, the largest schools in our divisions have been so much larger than the smaller schools in the same division, which has resulted in many schools accepting that they realistically have little chance at making a run in the tournament.”

He further explained that the adjustments seek to address concerns over the disproportionate size of schools competing within the same division, with some sports witnessing over 200 schools vying for a state title, a figure significantly higher than other states and many of OHSAA’s own sports.

Anticipating logistical challenges in the implementation process, Ute assured stakeholders of ongoing efforts to streamline the transition, emphasizing the revenue-neutral nature of the new format and its aim to enhance the tournament experience for all participants.

While the board retains final authority in determining the number of divisions each school year, the proposal outlines a systematic approach based on the scale of team participation, particularly for girls volleyball, football, soccer, basketball, softball, and baseball.

Moreover, the proposal preserves existing criteria for individual sports, maintaining the requisite number of student-athletes for team designation across various disciplines.

Member schools will have the opportunity to ratify any changes to the OHSAA bylaws or constitution through the annual referendum voting process. Additionally, representatives elected to District Athletic Boards will play a pivotal role in shaping decisions at the state level through the State Board of Directors.

The OHSAA plans to unveil further details regarding structural and scheduling adjustments for future state tournaments at a later date.