By David Fong
COLUMBUS — The Ohio High School Athletic Association will have a new face when teams take to the field this fall.
On Wednesday, Dr. Dan Ross — the OHSAA Executive Director — announced his resignation, effective Sept. 15. Ross has been in his current position since Aug. 1, 2004. He previously had worked in education as a teacher, administrator and official since 1971.
The OHSAA Board of Directors will begin implementing a succession plan and assemble a search committee for the OHSAA’s next executive director. Ross said he plans to pursue other interests within the realm of athletics and education.
“I have been so blessed to serve our member schools in this capacity for 14 years,” Ross said in a press release. “I don’t plan to retire from my work of promoting all the positive things that school sports can do for our kids, schools and communities. We’ll see what the future holds for me. It’s time for me to step aside and allow for new leadership of the OHSAA. I would like to thank our current and former staff members and board members who I have worked with during my time at the OHSAA.”
Paul Powers, president of the OHSAA Board of Directors and athletic administrator at Aurora High School in northeast Ohio, lauded Ross for his service in leading the organization.
“We would like to thank Dr. Ross for all that he has done for the OHSAA and our member schools,” Powers said. “Dan has done so many great things for high school sports in Ohio and has touched everyone associated with the OHSAA in such a positive way. Dr. Ross has been the perfect person to lead the OHSAA.
“He is respected by so many groups, such as administrators, coaches, officials, leaders of the other professional educational associations, lawmakers, the media and his fellow executive directors at other state associations. The list goes on and on. Being the head of an organization that enforces rules and regulations and has to make decisions that are not often popular is difficult. But anyone who has ever come in contact with Dan will tell you that he has made them feel special and always followed the motto that is on the pin he often wears on his lapel that says ‘children first.’”
Under Ross’ leadership, the OHSAA has added girls and boys bowling, dual team wrestling and girls and boys lacrosse, while also adding additional divisions in girls soccer, girls golf, boys swimming and football. In addition, the OHSAA added events for seated at the state track and field championships beginning in 2013.
In 2011, Ross began the groundwork for the Competitive Balance initiative in light of a potential split between public and private schools. The Competitive Balance plan was passed by a referendum vote of OHSAA member schools in 2014 and was successfully implemented in 2016.
Ross has strengthened the OHSAA’s partnerships with other educational service organizations by forming advisory committees with the state school boards, superintendents, principals and athletic administrators associations. He saw the OHSAA expand and diversify its Board of Directors and district athletic boards by adding female, ethnic minority and 7th-8th grade representatives. A standard statewide coaches education program was also adopted, which is required for certification.
Since his arrival, the OHSAA has strengthened its brand and awareness by creating the OHSAA Circle of Champions, increasing statewide television coverage of state tournaments, creating the OHSAA Radio Network, upgrading the OHSAA website and adding OHSAA Magazine.
Contact David Fong at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @thefong