Clarkston High School senior Thomas Kithier’s attempt to play with his teammates on the boys varsity basketball team was denied on Jan. 11.
U.S. District Judge Marianne O. Battani ruled against his preliminary injunction which would have allowed Kithier to play. She cited he did not have a constitutional right to play extra-curricular sports and lack of precedent.
“We are disappointed,” said Ven Johnson, attorney for Kithier. “Thomas and his family, we are all disappointed. We are working very hard on this to do what we know how to do to get him to play. But right now all that has happened is the judge said I am not going to block the MHSAA.”
“I think the judge felt bad for the situation,” said Steve Fishman, Kithier’s attorney. “I think if it were up to her, she would change things but it’s not up to her. Really the villain of this is the MHSAA that didn’t give a hoot about Thomas Kithier and made a ruling to prove they can do it.”
Johnson added the most important thing to happen was the judge denied motion for preliminary injunction.
“All we were asking her to do is basically pretend this is the end of the case which you all know will take a year to two years,” Johnson said. “She said with all the case law out there the way it is, I can’t do that. It’s a really, really high standard. Obviously we are disappointed. The rest of the lawsuit continues.”
Kithier filed a lawsuit against MHSAA, Chippewa Valley School District and individuals who claimed his move to Clarkston was not for academic reasons and it was athletically motivated.
Johnson and Fishman shared they would like the policy updated in the future.
Fishman shared Clarkston Athletic Director Jeff Kosin was in Lansing the same day testifing for a bill to limit sanctions against students who transfer between school districts before the House Education Reform Committee.
State Rep. Jim Tedder, of Clarkston, was also there.
“Students move from one district to another every semester for a multitude of reasons. The former school district in conjunction with a private organization should not have the power to override an educational decision that parents made in the best interest of their child,” Tedder said. “The enforcement of the ‘transfer rule’ as presently applied by the MHSAA is, at best, arbitrary, subjective and with complete disregard for what is in the best interest of a student’s success.”
The key provision of the bill specifically disallows a school district from prohibiting student participation in interscholastic athletics because he or she transferred from one district to another.
“As a parent, former teacher and coach, I recognize athletic participation is an integral part of a child’s educational experience,” said Tedder. “Clearly, this matter places the selfish interests of adults over the best interest of students; in my three years as a legislator few things have incensed me more.”