Why is the OHSAA Treating Cross Country Different than All of the Other Sponsored Sports?

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Why is the OHSAA Treating Cross Country Different than All of the Other Sponsored Sports?

Written by Jim Lowther on 15 December 2014.

A few coaches complained to the Ohio High School Athletic Association that they had their boy’s team in one division and their girl’s team in another division and couldn’t watch both teams run in the postseason competition because their teams were running at different sites.  The OHSAA went against recommendation of the President of the Ohio Association of Track & Cross Country Coaches in 2011 not to use combined enrollment to determine divisions and made perhaps one of the most unfair and worst decision for a number of high school schools and athletes.

The OHSAA Mission states  “The Ohio High School Athletic Association's mission is to regulate and administer interscholastic athletic competition in a fair and equitable manner while promoting the values of participation in interscholastic athletics as an integral part of a student's educational experience.

Since the Ohio High School Athletic Association added girls sports championships, the OHSAA used each gender’s enrollment in grades 9-11 to determine a team divisional assignment.


Section 1 — Classification of Schools

2-1-1 Classification and representation to tournaments will be calculated every other school year. The classification will be calculated in a school year beginning with an even numbered year for use in the next two school years. Boy’s classification shall be determined by the total number of boys enrolled in grades 9-10-11. Girl’s classification shall be determined by the total number of girls enrolled in grades 9-10-11.

Once the above number is determined the division are divided equally based on the number of divisions (basketball has four, cross country has three).

Yet, without having the principals vote to alter Bylaw 2 - Section 1, the OHSAA Board of Directors decided to treat cross country different than all other OHSAA sponsored sports by combining the boys and girls enrollments and then dividing by two to determine a school’s division for cross country.

The decision to treat cross country different than all other OHSAA sports resulted in a number of teams being moved out of their normal division either into a lower division or higher division than what they should have been based on singer gender enrollment.

One school with 62% girls and 38% boys enrollment had their boys team forced to move up to Division I even though there were 64 schools with more boys running in Division II.

In looking at just the Division II Boys OHSAA State Cross Country Championships based on calculations if single gender enrollment was used (what is used for all other OHSAA sports) the 1st, 2nd and 13th place teams at last year’s State Championships probably should have run in the Division I meet.  As a result, a number of schools and athletes were denied the ability to advance to the State Championships and win honors based on this unfair OHSAA decision to used combined enrollment only for cross country.  More on this is posted on the Yappi.com web site -  http://www.yappi.com/forums/showthread.php?t=263230

In looking at coaches coaching both the boys and girls cross country teams, the OHSAA has the following Bylaw:


3-2-2 When a male coach is assigned to a girl’s team, an adult female (non-high school student) should be present at the contest. When a female coach is assigned to a boy’s team, an adult male (non-high school student) should be present at the contest.

If a school doesn’t have a coach to represent each gender it seems to be a local school board issue and maybe a Title IX concern, not an OHSAA issue.  Parents in school districts where there is not adequate supervision should voice their concerns.   This is a local issue not an OHSAA issue.

With the combined enrollment being used for cross country there are 641 teams and 3 divisions.  Football now has 7 divisions for 715 schools.

From the OHSAA magazine

“The plan for adopting an additional division (in football) was in response to a concern by some OHSAA member schools about the enrollment disparity that exists in Division I, where the current range is 494 males at the lower end of the division to 1,164 at the top. Based on current enrollment data, the lower end of Division I would increase to 600 males.”

From The Columbus Dispatch

“The big issue was that a lot of schools on the lower end of Division I felt they never had a chance to contend for a state championship when the top teams had two, even three times the number of boys in their school, OHSAA commissioner Dan Ross said. “The plan we’ve put into place is not perfect by any means, but it’s a step forward in reducing the discrepancy we had before.”

Unfortunately, OHSAA Commissioner Dan Ross wasn’t taking about cross country as one school with only 268 boys is now in the same division as a school with 1,164 because of combined enrollment.

Recently the OHSAA reported over 100 girls play on their high school football team.  If this is the case, shouldn’t the OHSAA use the combined enrollment rule for football?  A number of girls also are on the boys wrestling team – should combined enrollment also be used there?   It is a certainty that the football coaches, athletic directors and principals would be up in arms if the OHSAA used combined enrollment for football.

So do you think the OHSAA New Cross Country Divisional Assignments using combined enrollment is – “Fair? - Equitable”?

After reading this what can you do?

Schools, parents and runners need to contact the OHSAA to voice their concerns and support to treat cross country like all of the other OHSAA sports; otherwise combined enrollment could be used for track & field, swimming, soccer and other “minor” sports.

Voice your concern to:

OHSAA Commissioner Dan Ross - This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it   (614) 267-2502

Cross Country liaison – Dale Gabor - This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Contact the various OHSAA Board members - http://www.ohsaa.org/general/biographies/board_bios.htm

and District Board members - http://www.ohsaa.org/general/about/districtbod.htm

The OATCCC president Dugan Hill - This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Other OATCCC members - http://www.oatccc.com/aboutus.html


Please forward this article to your running friends….

Anyone who runs, coaches runners or is a parent of a runner should not sit back and accept this new rule.  It is not “Fair or Equitable” to many student athletes and schools!!


More articles on this issue:

Ohio High School Cross Country Issues


OHSAA New Cross Country Divisions – “Fair? - Equitable”?


OATCCC letter to the OHSAA Board of Directors


High-school cross country: New rule stirs competition debate


New high school cross country division breakdown draws criticism


Issues with Combined Enrollment for Cross Country


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