‘If we can give kids experience and make some money’: OHSAA director addresses football playoff expansion

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Doug Ute says his approach for 35 years has always been 'kid first'

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The high school football postseason will expand this fall to include 16 teams from each region, doubling the playoff field from 2019.

It’s a decision by the Ohio High School Athletic Association that has drawn criticism from local coaches who question whether the expansion is good for the game or financially motivated.

WKBN Sports Director Ryan Allison spoke with OHSAA Executive Director Doug Ute on Thursday to get his thoughts on the playoff expansion.

Click here to watch the entire interview with OHSAA Executive Director Doug Ute.

“I sat in the room in discussion and I can safely say with our board of directors, there wasn’t even a financial comment,” says OHSAA Executive Director Doug Ute. “I’ve got 37 years of experience in schools doing what’s right for kids, and being kid first. It’s about the experience for the kids number one. The second piece of that is, we’re operating a business, so if we can give kids experience and make some money, then hey, that’s a good thing. And we will make more money, everybody knows that. We wouldn’t deny that. But it’s always about kids first, and giving kids an experience.”

“Our feedback on the expansion of the playoff was extremely positive from coaches, from administrators, from parents, even from kids,” says Ute. “From our standpoint, it doesn’t increase another week, and it gives a lot more kids an opportunity to experience a playoff experience.”

The expanded football playoffs are set to take place this fall. 448 teams will qualify for postseason play state-wide this upcoming season.

2021 OHSAA Football Playoff Schedule

October 29-30 – First Round at Higher Seeded Teams

November 5-6 – Regional Quarterfinals at Higher Seeded Teams

November 12-13 – Regional Semifinals at Neutral Sites

November 19-20 – Regional Finals at Neutral Sites

November 26-27 – State Semifinals at Neutral Sites

December 2-5 – State Championships, Site TBD, one game Thursday, two games each day on Friday, Saturday and Sunday

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