COLUMBUS, OH (WOWK) – The Ohio High School Athletic Association recently updated its member schools on several legislative issues that have developed or are under discussion in the Ohio General Assembly and their implications for schools and interschool athletics.
Recent legislation includes name, image and likeness, participation of transgender student-athletes, reinstatement of parts of the OHSAA transfer regulations, freedom of religious expression, a proposed semesters additional athletic eligibility, an increased consequence for an assault on an official sport, and more.
Name, image and likeness
Summary: In House Bill 110 (“the Budget Bill”), language was added in Sec. 3376.03 to allow Universityathletes to earn compensation because of the use of the student’s name, image or likeness. It has no impact on students who participate in interschool sports at the high school level. Therefore, OHSAA Rule 4-10, which is the OHSAA Rule of Amateurism, is still in effect, but is under review for potential changes that would go to members for a vote in the 2022 referendum cycle. OHSAA student-athletes are entitled to receive rewards / prizes up to a value of $ 400 if the reward is a direct result of participation in their sport (Rule 5), such as a “Player of the match ”at a local restaurant, or an athlete competing and winning an award. However, OHSAA student-athletes are not permitted to hire an agent or receive cash or cash prizes for their participation in their sport. They are also not allowed to capitalize on their sporting fame by receiving valuable money, goods or services based on the notoriety they gain as an athlete.
Participation of transgender athletes
Current impact on member schools? No, but maybe to come
Summary: The OHSAA’s transgender policy currently requires one year of hormone therapy before a transgender woman is allowed to compete on a women’s team. However, there are currently two bills, House Bill 61 and Senate Bill 132, which would bar any participation of transgender women in women’s sports teams. Both bills are currently in committee and another hearing is expected for HB61 in the fall. The current OHSAA transgender policy is posted at: https://ohsaaweb.blob.core.windows.net/files/Eligibility/OtherEligibiltyDocs/TransgenderPolicy.pdf
Additional semester (s) of secondary sports eligibility
Current impact on member schools? No
Summary: There are currently two bills, Bill 316 and Senate Bill 200, which would seek to extend a student-athlete’s eligibility at the high school level beyond the traditional eight semesters described in Regulation 4. -3-3 due to education related to covid problems. These two bills are currently in committee, but do not appear to be evolving at a rate that would impact any student for the 2021-2022 school year. Unless otherwise specified, member schools must follow the applicable guidelines and exceptions of Regulation 4-3-3, which limits a student to eight semesters of sport participation taken in order of attendance, whether the student participates or not.
Restoration of transfer exceptions / settlements
Current impact on member schools? Yes, planned for fall 2021
Summary: In Bill 110 (“the Budget Bill”), which was passed on June 30, 2021, language was added to repeal 3313.5316 which will now allow OHSAA to revert previously deleted wording from the transfer regulation. in 2019. In August 2021 Board meeting, the office of the CEO will make a recommendation to the board on the most appropriate way to potentially reinstate these exceptions / rules for the remainder of the school year 2021-2022. Regulations / exceptions that are affected include:
STATUS 4-7-2 – Potentially restore exceptions 5 (State school for the blind or public school for the deaf) and 6 (house not ready to be inhabited according to ORC §§ 3313.64 (F) (6) or 3313.64 (F) ( 7))
· STATUS 4-7-4 – Potentially restore exception 5- Intra-district transfer of a poorly performing school.
· BY-LAW 4-7-5 – Potentially restore the inter-district transfer of a poorly performing school.
· REGULATION 4-7-6 – Potentially restore the “redistribution option”.
· REGULATION 4-7-7 – Potentially restore “Transportation and Financial Hardship Options”.
Student religious expression in extracurricular activities
Current impact on member schools? Likely
Summary: The OHSAA’s bylaws and athletic regulations currently comply with Senate Bill 181, but the proposal, if passed, would prevent schools or an association from adopting a rule, bylaw, or other regulation. that prohibits or creates a hindrance to the wearing of religious clothing during competitions or participating in interschool or extracurricular sports activities, including requirements that participants obtain prior approval, written waivers or any other authorization. Any person / entity who violates this section would be subject to a civil action for damages, injunction or other appropriate remedy. This bill passed the Senate with almost unanimous support and is now submitted to the House’s Elementary and Secondary Education Committee for consideration.
Increase the penalties for assaulting a sports official
Current impact on member schools? No, but probably to come
Summary: House Bill 44, if passed, would increase the penalty for assaulting an individual if the victim is a sports official and the assault is committed during or immediately before or after a sporting event, or in retaliation for the official’s actions as a sports official. This would increase the penalty for assaulting a fifth degree felony and require a mandatory fine and community service for the offense of “assault”. While this should have minimal impact on our schools, administrators should be aware of this as they help officials navigate confrontational situations.
Students transferred to an online school
Current impact on member schools? Yes, immediate
Summary: In House Bill 110 (“the Budget Bill”), language was added in Sec. 3302.42, which requires that a school district “assign all students engaged in e-learning to a single school that the department will designate as a district e-school. “It should be noted that the option to operate a blended learning model under article 3302.41 of the revised Code or an alternative school according to article 3313.533 of the revised Code is NOT affected by this new law. Therefore, if a school district has chosen to open a new online school with a separate IRN, instead of using the blended learning model within section 3302.41, the students who are transferred to this new one school are, by definition, transfer students in accordance with Regulation 4-7-2. transfer. but only for student-athletes transferred to a new online school sponsored by the district and specifically created in response to 3302.41. The decision to waive strict compliance with this transfer rule only for these students is due to the fact that if this law had not been implemented, the student (s) would otherwise have maintained their enrollment in the member school to gain access to online education in this capacity.
Delay in ODE background checks for student activity licenses
Current impact on member schools? Yes, immediate
Summary: While this update does not relate to new legislation, the OHSAA office has been informed of messages sent to school administrators alerting them to “potential delays associated with criminal background checks that lead to subsequent delays in the ability of the Ohio Department of Education to issue and renew certain professional licenses, including student teaching and activity licenses. “If a school has a coach who is going through the renewal process and has experienced a delay in their certification, please note that ORC §119.06 will allow the school to authorize renew coaches who have completed all required applications / registrations on time and in the manner prescribed by ODE rule to continue coaching even if they are awaiting a decision from the agency. This law does not apply to coaches who apply for their initial certification. Please see this link or contact the OHSAA Compliance Department if you have any questions about this law: https://codes.ohio.gov/ohio-revised-code/section-119.06
And in other notable national news:
Mahanoy Region School District c. BL – Supreme Court
Summary: The United States Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a teenage girl who was kicked from her cheerleading squad following a secular social media post. In an 8-1 decision, he found that the Mahanoy Area School District violated Brandi Levy’s freedom of speech under the First Amendment since his comments were made via social media off campus. The ruling states that schools cannot punish a student for his speech off campus unless “materially disrupts class work or involves substantial disorder or infringement of the rights of others.The ruling still allows schools to discipline students for off-campus speech deemed racist, intimidating, threatening or otherwise disruptive to learning, and schools can still discipline a student for off-campus language if that is found to be disruptive. In an AP News article, Judge Samuel Alito wrote: “If today’s decision teaches any lesson, it’s that regulating many types of student speech outside of school raises serious First Amendment concerns, and school officials must proceed with caution before s ‘venture into this territory.. “