COLUMBUS – When the Ohio High School Athletic Association needed an interim commissioner to fill in for Dr. Dan Ross, former Franklin Monroe Superintendent Dave Gray was the unanimous choice.
“I was actually really humbled,” Gray said of the OHSAA Board of Directors unanimously selecting him. “That was very nice. Just humbled that they felt highly of me to do this position.”
Gray, who retired from Franklin Monroe in 2012, has served as the chair of the OHSAA’s Student Eligibility Appeals Panel for the past three years. He also previously spent 29 years on the OHSAA’s Southwest District Athletic Board and had two stints on the OHSAA Board of Directors, including vice president in 1992-93 and president in 2010-11.
His new job, though, has Gray working full-time out of the Columbus office unlike his previous positions. He’s been living out of his suitcase since officially starting his new job on Monday, he said, and hopes to make it home to Darke County as often as possible on the weekends.
During his time in Columbus, there hasn’t been much down time for Gray. The OHSAA currently is in the process wrapping up the 2015-16 school year while looking ahead to the 2016-17 school year.
“I haven’t had any shortage of work to do so far,” Gray said. “It’s been a real challenge around here for everyone.”
Making the job even more difficult is that Ross’ health problems caused a backlog of work. Ross’ emails had essentially been vacated for months, Gray said, so there are a lot of loose ends to tie up.
The first few days of Gray’s new job were filled with meetings including meeting all of the assistant and associate OHSAA commissioners.
“It’s just a matter of pulling everyone together,” Gray said.
The former Franklin Monroe superintendent also had meetings about the future of the state championship football games, which will be a big priority in the coming months.
The OHSAA will play the 2016 state championship games at Ohio Stadium in Columbus. The plan is to return the games to Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, which currently is undergoing a massive construction project, for 2017 and 2018.
The state would like to have contracts for championship sites wrapped up for the next five years so Gray and his staff will have to make decisions about the 2019 games and beyond in the coming months.
The OHSAA also is in the process of negotiating television contracts for its championship events, which will be another focus of Gray’s tenure as interim commissioner.
In the immediate future Gray will attend a national conference of state athletic associations this upcoming week where he will be the face of Ohio.
There also will be lots of traveling in August when Gray has to travel around the state for regional meetings and speaking engagements.
“We’ll hit the ground running in August,” he said.
The length of Gray’s tenure as interim commissioner is still to be decided. With Ross’ serious health problems, Gray anticipates being in the role well through the fall sports season.
Gray never thought he’d be the OHSAA commissioner, but he’s honored to have the position and glad to be able to lend a hand.
“Maybe this is just my time to help out the association and help out Dr. Ross,” he said. “It’s an honor to be selected to do this.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.