DETROIT (WXYZ) - There are two sides to every story.
“This case was not about Mr. Kithier, it was about enforcing its rules and standing up for the other member schools who expect them to do so,” MHSAA attorney Scott Eldridge said.
“Really the villain of this piece is the MHSAA that didn’t give a hoot about Thomas Kithier and made a ruling to prove that they could do it,” Kithier’s attorney Steven Fishman stated.
Thomas Kithier left the federal courthouse after an hour and forty-five minutes of deliberation, knowing that he’ll never play high school basketball again. The 18 year old senior at Clarkston high school, who moved to the area from Macomb Dakota this summer, was denied a preliminary injunction to join his new team on January 15th because the court found no fundamental right to play high school sports, and sided with the MHSAA’s claim that Kithier’s transfer was athletically motivated, breaking a rule that’s been in place since 1997.
“The wealth of caselaw that we cited that the judge looked towards for her ruling says that there simply is not a due process of constitutional right to participate in interscholastic athletics,” Eldridge added.
“She said with all this caselaw out there the way it is, I can’t do that (let Kithier play), that’s all she said,” Kithier’s attorney Ven Johnson said.
“Obviously we’re disappointed for Thomas and his family, were all disappointed, we worked very hard on this and did everything we know how to do to get the big fella to play but right now the judge has said that right now, I’m not going to block MHSAA, now the rest of the lawsuit continues,” Johnson added.
It’s been controversial because not every transfer is treated the same, only reported transfers are looked at and ruled on by the MHSAA and in this case, Dakota High, felt Kithier broke the rule and reported it, the alternative would have been just signing his transfer release and allowing him to play starting next Monday.
“You go stop the next 100 people walking down the street and ask them two questions: one, do you think parents should put their kid in whatever school they want? 99% of the people will say yes and if you ask them should Thomas Kithier be allowed to play? 95% of the people are going to say ‘absolutely, why not? What difference does it make?’ That’s why the real problem is and maybe a legislative solution is one we have to go to,” Fishman said.
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