COLUMBUS – The Ohio Supreme Court announced Monday evening that it was granting OHSAA’s motion for emergency stay of enforcement of a temporary restraining order (TRO) issued Aug. 15 by Judge Robert P. Ruehlman in Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas. The Ohio Supreme Court further stayed all proceedings in the Hamilton County action while it considers the merits of OHSAA’s Supreme Court complaint. The TRO was regarding a component of the OHSAA’s Competitive Balance process as it applies specifically to Roger Bacon High School and the other seven members of the Greater Catholic League Coed Division.
Last Thursday, the OHSAA filed a complaint for a writ of prohibition with the Ohio Supreme Court, contending that Judge Ruehlman does not have jurisdiction to decide the underlying claims against OHSAA, as the OHSAA is a private association and its member schools are volunteer members who vote on their own Bylaws and Constitution.
The hearing scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 28, in Hamilton County was canceled and the Ohio Supreme Court has set a briefing schedule to consider the merits of OHSAA’s Supreme Court complaint. A date has not been set for when the Ohio Supreme Court will make a decision.
“We are pleased that the Ohio Supreme Court has stayed enforcement of the TRO and has taken jurisdiction to hear the merits of our case,” said Joe Callow, partner at Keating, Muething and Klekamp PLL (KMK), which is assisting OHSAA general counsel Steve Craig, Esq., in defense of the Competitive Balance process that OHSAA member schools voted into place in 2014. “As we said before, we do not believe that courts can interfere with the internal affairs and application of the bylaws of the OHSAA, which were duly adopted by the member schools.”
“We understand that this case isn’t over, but we are encouraged that the Ohio Supreme Court heard our complaint and intervened,” said Jerry Snodgrass, OHSAA Executive Director. “This means that we are currently planning to move forward with our schools’ tournament assignments in football, soccer and volleyball as approved by our Board of Directors in January 2018. Competitive Balance was voted into place by our member schools in 2014 and there is a process in place that they can seek a change to a bylaw. We will continue to strongly defend the bylaws that our schools have adopted and have the opportunity to amend or change.”
The OHSAA’s complaint to the Ohio Supreme Court contends that Judge Ruehlman does not have the jurisdiction or authority to issue a TRO prohibiting the OHSAA from implementing the adopted bylaws of the voluntary members of this unincorporated private association. Judge Ruehlman’s TRO had prevented the OHSAA from implementing a component of the Competitive Balance formula as it applies specifically to the GCL Coed Division, but the ruling impacted schools throughout Ohio.
In addition to Roger Bacon, members of the GCL Coed Division include Kettering Archbishop Alter, Dayton Carroll, Middletown Bishop Fenwick, Cincinnati Purcell Marian, Hamilton Badin, Dayton Chaminade Julienne and Cincinnati Archbishop McNicholas.
The Competitive Balance process determines how schools are assigned to postseason tournament divisions in football, soccer, volleyball, basketball, softball and baseball.
The lawsuit has no effect on regular season schedules, which are now underway. However, if the OHSAA is not ultimately successful in its appeal, it could require the divisional assignments to be recalculated mid-season for those sports that are affected by Competitive Balance.