January 2, 2018

The Michigan High School Athletic Association is being sued, along with Chippewa Valley (Mich.) Schools, by a student-athlete. Thomas Kithier, the plaintiff, who is a Michigan State University basketball signee, was ruled ineligible for basketball after he transferred from Dakota High School in Macomb, Mich., to Clarkston (Mich.) High School.

An article from the South Bend Tribune reports that Kithier’s lawsuit claims he transferred for academic purposes and to leave a negative social environment. The MHSAA ruled him ineligible because he joined Foster Loyer, another MSU signee, on Clarkston’s roster by transferring.

“In addition to academics, the athletic staff bullied Plaintiff when: (a) the basketball coach Paul Tocco sent inappropriate texts to him regarding his decision to leave Macomb Dakota; and (b) other members of the athletic staff behaved inappropriately and unprofessionally toward him,” as stated in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit also includes allegations that the MHSAA encouraged officials to not sign Kithier’s educational transfer form. Had this form been signed, he could have been granted immediate eligibility.

“Now that we’re being sued, we can’t speak in very specific terms,” John Johnson, spokesman for the MHSAA, said. “What I can tell you is administrative rules like these are what schools expect us to enforce to maintain competitive equity. There are always going to be situations where those schools involved don’t want to be under (those rules).”

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