The Tomahawk

Thomas Kithier Drops Lawsuit Against Chippewa Valley Schools, MHSAA

Anthony Cardamone, Editor

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A former Dakota High School basketball star has dropped his lawsuit against the Chippewa Valley School District and the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA).

In a statement issued February 1, Kithier said

“We filed the lawsuit in order to attempt for me to overturn the MHSAA’s unfortunate decision to rule me ineligible. After that failed and after the MHSAA denied the appeal, they said that they would never let me play this year. I sat down with my attorneys and my family and strongly considered all of my options.  The lawsuit was likely to go on for years and it would serve as a substantial distraction to me, especially in my first two years of attending Michigan State University and playing on the basketball team. I have decided to dismiss the lawsuit and do my best to move on with my life. I would like to thank my attorneys, Ven Johnson and Steve Fishman, my parents, Jane and Karel, for all that they did for me, as well as basketball fans all over our country who have emailed me, called me and texted me, wishing me well. I greatly appreciate your love and support. I look forward to graduating with my high school class this year and then attending Michigan State University in the fall.

Thomas Kithier was ruled ineligible by the MHSAA to play basketball for Clarkston High School for high senior year after transferring from Dakota. This was deemed an athletically-motivated transfer, a violation of MHSAA rules that results in ineligibility from playing for 180 days, essentially their entire season.

Kithier and his attorneys at U.S. District Court.

The 6-foot-9 Michigan State commit and his family filed a lawsuit and sought a preliminary injunction that would have allowed Kithier to play for Clarkston as the lawsuit went on. The lawsuit named Chippewa Valley Schools superintendent Ron Roberts, Dakota principal Paul Sibley, Dakota athletic director Michael Fusco, and MHSAA officials Jack Roberts and Thomas Rashid as defendants.

Kithier’s family claimed the transfer to Clarkston was for academic and social reasons, citing “disappointment” in the academics at Dakota, harassment from Dakota basketball coach Paul Tocco, and that Kithier was “bullied” with text messages after deciding to transfer.

“The MHSAA, based on false allegations from Dakota, decided in its infinite wisdom to punish an innocent young man for exercising his right to move to another school district for academic and social reason,” Kithier’s attorney Ven Johnson said when the lawsuit was filed. “They did so without any regard for due process, not even bothering to talk to either Thomas or his parents about their real reasons for the move to Clarkston. And we will prove all that and more in court if necessary.” The lawsuit was filed in U.S. Federal District Court in Detroit.

Judge Marianne O. Battani denied the injunction, upholding the MHSAA decision for Kithier to be ineligible. “I believe the MHSAA made a reasonable, valid interpretation of the rule in question,” said Battani. “It’s a hard rule, but it’s the rule. There’s no constitutional right to participate in high school athletics. I can’t be the arbiter of action by the MHSAA.”

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Thomas Kithier Drops Lawsuit Against Chippewa Valley Schools, MHSAA