Some sports have so few teams that such a switch could eliminate the playoffs. The OHSAA may eliminate some sports from state competition, Plain Dealer Reporter Tim Warsinskey said, as it wouldn’t be cost effective to have a state tournament.
“The fear is that field hockey will no longer exist,” field hockey head coach Hilary Anderson said. There are so few field hockey teams — only 11 in the Cleveland area — that a state championship might be undermined with such a watered-down pool.
The split could also create a disparity within divisions. Public schools with huge differences in enrollment may be grouped together, Warsinskey said, which would still create a competitive divide.
But change is needed, St. Ignatius Athletic Director Rory Fitzpatrick said. A possible solution, he said, would be to create a multiplier where specific private schools’ teams would be bumped up a division based on their past success.
The Georgia High School Association used a similar system until they dropped it in 2004 due to its ineffectiveness. However, “Each state has its own history and its own geography — so what works in one place may not work in another,” GHSA Executive Director Ralph Swearngin said.
Men’s basketball head coach Danny Young sees a problem not between public and private schools, but at the early levels of tournament play. “The larger issue is equity in sectional and district tournaments,” Young said.
Shaker, Garfield Heights, St. Ignatius and Cleveland Heights, all ranked in the Plain Dealer top 10, were grouped in the Solon men’s basketball district, creating one of the toughest paths to regional play in the state.