The Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) is implementing expanded divisions across the state to change the way end-of-season tournaments are structured for high school sports. The move was made to account for the large enrollment disparities within divisions and to address allegations that private schools are recruiting student-athletes.
Divisions will expand based on the number of high schools sponsoring that sport within Ohio. A competitive balance formula – which was first introduced in 2014 – is then applied to each school’s enrollment numbers to combat the alleged recruiting and unfair advantage private schools have in state tournaments. The formula is intended to identify students outside the typical geographic “boundary” of a school as they could be considered “recruits.”

The 64 schools with the largest adjusted enrollment will be placed in Division I and the next 64 schools will be placed in Division II. The remaining schools will be dispersed evenly among the remaining number of divisions.       

While Elder has been attracting a more geographically diverse student body in recent years, our roots on the westside of Cincinnati remain strong as ever. We consistently compete at an elite level in sports and have done so for a century despite most of our students coming from our own backyard.

While our track record of winning Division I state titles speaks for itself, the new formulas being applied by OHSAA view us as underdogs. Elder adheres to strict rules regarding the recruitment of prospective student-athletes, making the net we cast for sports tryouts nowhere near as large as some local schools. However, the quality of our athletic programs and the success of our athletes have made Elder a contender for Division I state championships year after year.    
Applying the OHSAA Formula to Elder Sports
Each student on the roster of a given sport is included in a competitive balance calculation, which is then added to Ohio’s Education Management Information System data to produce a final, adjusted enrollment count for the school. Competitive balance numbers are re-calculated each year and have designated the following placements for Elder’s end-of-season tournaments for the upcoming school year:
  • Football: Division I
  • Basketball: Division II
  • Soccer: Division II
  • Baseball: TBD (6/10/2024)
On May 16, 2024 – after a referendum vote by member schools – OHSAA announced passage of Issue 1B, which will allow schools to request to move up to Division I on a sport-by-sport basis for the upcoming season in that sport. For the 2024-2025 school year, Elder has requested to remain Division I in all sports, pending approval by the OHSAA. This decision was made after a thorough review of all sports programs and our steadily rising enrollment numbers, which may have us assigned back in Division I in just a couple of years. For the upcoming school year, Elder weighed this decision as a school versus considering placements on a sport-by-sport basis. 

More on OHSAA Division Placements & Elder Athletics
These changes made at the state level only apply to end-of-season tournament placements. No matter the division placement, Elder will continue to compete at the highest level of high school sports. We will maintain our competitive schedules in the Greater Catholic League – South and attract and seek competition from other elite high school sports programs around the country.

While these formulas signal that young athletes may compete with fewer kids when striving to make a sports team at Elder, our Panther prowess is none the wiser, nor is our win/loss record. Our athletes will continue to thrive and be seen by coaches at the next level.

Our enrollment numbers are the highest they’ve been in years as we continue to attract students from around Greater Cincinnati. As we remain the dominant choice for high school among westside elementary school students, our sports teams will continue to reflect the best that the westside has to offer, and we are so proud of that distinction. Underdogs we are not!

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Kevin Espelage at EspelageKJ@elderhs.net.  
Kurt Ruffing ‘81                                                         Kevin J. Espelage ‘91
Principal/CEO                                                             Athletic Director