Coaches and administrators in Ohio have complained for years that non-public or parochial schools have an advantage when it comes to drawing students -- in particular athletes.
For the third time, Ohio High School Athletic Association member schools have declined to resolve the dispute.
By a narrow margin, they voted down yet another attempt at addressing the divisive issue of competitive balance.
The OHSAA, the sanctioning body for prep sports in the state, announced on Thursday that the latest proposal was defeated by a vote of 327-308. Earlier measures addressing the issue went down 339-301 and 332-303.
The proposal would have determined the tournament divisions for football, soccer, volleyball, basketball, baseball and softball teams. Rather than basing the teams' assigned division only on enrollment, it would have factored in students who do not come from the immediate school district, geographic boundary or attendance zone.
The measure would have affected private and parochial schools who draw students from a larger area than public schools do.
"It's disappointing that it did not pass because we believed this formula addressed the main issue to which schools voiced concern: the impact on athletic success by students on a school's team roster who are from outside that school's geographic boundary or attendance zone," OHSAA Commissioner Dan Ross said.
He added that he anticipated a proposal for separate tournaments would likely be placed on the ballot next spring.
The member schools were set to vote on separate tournaments this year, but that proposal was pulled off the ballot in late march when those in favor of split tournaments agreed to back the measure put up for a vote this spring.
So the complaints will continue, just as they always have.
"I believe separation of our tournaments is not the best option," Ross said. "Almost 50 percent of our member schools believe some type of change is needed, but no one seems to have the answer for what change would satisfy the most people. One thing seems pretty certain, though: this issue is not going to go away. It's something in which many, many other states are also struggling to find an answer."
The member schools did approve a significant change to the transfer bylaw. The existing rule is a transfer must sit out one year, but the membership altered that to 50 percent of the regular-season contests in any sports in which the student participated the previous year.