In 2007, Coldwater was the only team capable of beating a seemingly unbeatable Cardinal Mooney football team.
The Cavaliers’ athletic director may have an answer for an even tougher problem involving schools like Mooney’s.
Eric Goodwin, who has been the school’s AD since 1998, believes he has a simple solution to the public-private debate. Under Goodwin’s plan, any open enrollment student would count as 150 percent toward a school’s enrollment.
So, if Riverdale High has 100 students and 30 of them are open enrollment, 115 students would count toward the school’s total when the Ohio High School Athletic Association assigns divisions.
And if St. Riverdale has 100 students? Since it’s a private school, all the students would be open enrollment, giving them 150.
“I have never thought it was or should be a public vs. private debate,” said Goodwin. “I just believe the current situation needs to be monitored better. Some public schools are just as guilty as private schools in regards to bringing in players for athletic purposes.”
That’s why Goodwin believes the OHSAA should have harsher penalties for students who transfer during high school.
“For this to work, it should be simple: If a student enters any school their freshman year, that is where they stay,” he said. “If they go to another school at all, it is a one-year penalty.
“Exceptions should be few and far between. No apartments, no change of custody, no exceptions such as these. The only exception would be a physical move in which they no longer have ownership of the other property they were living in.”
Currently, athletes are eligible if they change residences, but as Goodwin hinted, there are too many ways around this rule. He believes students should change schools for academics only and believes coaches should lose their licenses if they’re caught cheating. He also thinks cheating schools should get a two-year ban from postseason tournaments for all sports.
While Goodwin’s plan is harsh, it’s not coming from someone whose school is incapable of competing with the state’s best. Over the last 12 years, Coldwater has played Mooney or Ursuline in the state finals five times. The Cavaliers won both meetings with Mooney (2005 and 2007) and lost all three meetings with Ursuline (2000, 2009 and 2010). They won this year’s Division V state football title and have won state titles in six other sports since 1990.
“Coldwater has taken pride in trying to compete against the Youngstown-area schools,” said Goodwin, whose school has had just one open enrollment student on its football team during his tenure. “Obviously we have had mixed success against both of them, but we do take pride in being able to try to compete with them.
“With separate tournaments, we would have never had the great state final game of 2007 of Mooney vs. Coldwater.”
The past two years, Ohio’s principals have voted down complicated referendums that took into account things like student lunches, tradition and boundaries. In May, those principals will decide whether or not to separate tournaments between public and private.
I think Goodwin’s solution is a better option.
Joe Scalzo is a sports writer for The Vindi cator. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.