COLUMBUS – The Ohio High School Athletic Association filed a Complaint for Writ of Prohibition in the Ohio Supreme Court Thursday and asked the Ohio Supreme Court to stay enforcement of the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by Judge Robert P. Ruehlman against the OHSAA and to stay all further proceedings on this matter in Hamilton County until the Ohio Supreme Court has considered the merits of OHSAA’s Complaint for Writ of Prohibition.
The filing contends that Judge Ruehlman did 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 prevents the OHSAA from implementing a component of the Competitive Balance formula as it applies specifically to Roger Bacon High School and the other members of the Greater Catholic League Coed Division, but the ruling impacts schools throughout Ohio.
Membership in the OHSAA is voluntary and the member schools vote annually for any changes they wish to adopt to their Constitution and Bylaws.
“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,” 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. “The Ohio Supreme Court has been consistent on this issue for more than 50 years.”
“OHSAA member schools have agreed to a longstanding and fair process that provides them the opportunity to change any of our Bylaws or Constitutional items,” said Jerry Snodgrass, OHSAA Executive Director. “Our member schools voted these bylaws into place and only the member schools can make a change. We will strongly defend the very Constitution our members have voted for and we support the GCL schools as well as all our members to propose changes through that established process.”
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.
Judge Ruehlman has scheduled an August 28 preliminary injunction hearing in the case in Hamilton County. Officially, the filing Thursday in the Ohio Supreme Court is a Complaint for Writ of Prohibition and Motion for Emergency Stay and Expedited Alternative Writ, which asks a higher court to stop a lower court from proceeding with a case that does not fall under the lower court’s jurisdiction.
Judge Ruehlman issued the TRO August 15 prohibiting the OHSAA from using the Tier 1 factor, which relates to feeder schools, specifically as it applies to Roger Bacon and the GCL Coed Division. However, since OHSAA bylaws apply equally to all member schools, both public and non-public, the ruling has statewide implications.
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 successful in its appeal, it could require the divisional assignments to be recalculated mid-season for those sports that are affected by Competitive Balance.