Dan Ross has been commissioner of the Ohio High School Athletic Association since August, 2004. A native of Portsmouth, Ohio, he graduated from St. Charles High School in Columbus in 1967. He received a bachelor's degree from Ohio Dominican College, a master's from Xavier University, and a doctorate from Bowling Green State University. He has worked at elementary schools through colleges, including as a principal and a superintendent at three Ohio districts. He also has worked as a basketball, baseball, and volleyball official.
1. What are your ties to northwest Ohio?
“I have a brother [John Ross] who lives in Sylvania, helps coach football at Northview and was a football player at the University of Toledo and was inducted into their hall of fame. I was superintendent of schools at Patrick Henry ... and was an instructor at BGSU.”
2. What is the biggest misconception regarding the governing role of the OHSAA?
“I think there is a belief that there is a group of people sitting down here [in Columbus] ... making rules up to try to stick it to kids ... Every one of our rules comes from an appeal, or from one of our schools. Our job is to enforce those to keep the athletic field as level as possible.”
3. Since you became commissioner, what is the most significant change the OHSAA has made?
“When we have an issue, instead of just being an athletic issue, it's now an educational issue. We're trying to use our member schools and input from people out in the field in order to make better decisions.”
4. A hot-button issue has been athletes transferring between schools, sometimes by circumventing the bylaws. How has the OHSAA controlled this situation?
“I don't know if you're ever going to control that because people are always going to move and try to circumvent the rule. Our transfer basically says, if you transfer after the fifth day of your ninth grade year, thn you're ineligible for a year, unless you meet one of the exceptions. There are now 11 exceptions to that rule, and that rule is pretty clear.”
5. The football playoff championship games have long been hosted by Massillon and Canton. Is it possible that another region could become finals hosts?
“Any part of the state that wanted to put a proposal together would be considered. If BGSU and UT wanted to go together to do that, they could.”
6. How does Ohio compare with other states on execution of state tournament competition?
“We've been blessed. We want our state tournaments to be benchmark events in the lives of our kids and communities, and we have some of the best facilities in the country. We have great tournament managers and great liaisons from our office working with them to make sure that what happens there is top-shelf.”
7. What are one or two changes in the works that you feel are most important for the OHSAA to make?
“One would be the continued development of the software for MyOHSAA [website], which is a scheduling platform that schools will be able to use for scheduling and communications back and forth with schools, parents, and the communities. The second thing is our coaching education. When over 60 percent of your coaches come from outside ranks, and they've never taken a course on the care and development of young people, coaching education will be a tremendous help to our boards of education and our schools.”
8. What do you enjoy most about you position?
“Probably having the opportunity to work with myriad people across Ohio. We work with the people who are going to help make that happen. It gives you a chance to touch tomorrow every day, and you don't get that in very many positions.”
9. A few years back Genoa was involved in a state semifinal softball game that began at around 1 a.m. What measures has the OHSAA taken to avoid competition at such late hours?
“That was something you look at as an educator and say, ‘How can we learn from that situation?' We got some people together and said, ‘OK, we do not want this to happen, so how can we fix it?' We ended up with a change in our bylaws that, now, you're not allowed to start a game after 11 p.m. You can complete one after 11, but you can't start one.”
10. What impact has the nation's economic downturn had on high school sports programs in Ohio?
“Things get a little tougher and people ... vote no [on school levies]. When [boards] start looking at making cuts, athletics and other extracurricular programs are usually a part of that. Also, pay-to-participate has come into play for more schools, and it's more expensive.”
— Steve Junga