While Thomas Kithier and his transfer from Macomb Dakota High School to Clarkston High School is the focal point of this article, it really isn't about him. For the record let me make it very clear that I hate transferring. I haven't liked it for a long time. But just like Michigan State's Hall of Fame Head Coach Tom Izzo (who shares my disdain for transfers), I understand that it's part of the game.
The proverbial cat has been let out of the bag and there's no way the toothpaste is going back in the tube. That is why I firmly believe everyone involved doesn't like transfers, but the fact that they are part of the fabric of the game of basketball, they cannot be undone.
I will have critics saying that I wrote this article only because Thomas is committed to Michigan State and that's the focus of my reporting. That is actually true. While I have great disdain for transferring I haven't written much about it because it hasn't been something that's fallen under my purview of coverage which is Michigan State.
I set out from the very beginning to simply tell the truth of the situation. Whether that falls into a category of pro-Thomas Kithier or anti-Thomas Kithier was simply going to be determined by where the facts took me. The truth was my only agenda.
I want to make it very clear that I reached out to the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA)and tried to speak with Mr. Tom Rashid. He is their Assistant Director of the organization and as you will learn is a key component to this situation.
While Rashid refused to speak to me, I did give four questions to his Media Representative John Johnson who got back with me on three of my four questions. The answers will be included in this article as they should be.
Johnson also reached back out to me later and sent me an email with the bullet points of the MHSAA and their thoughts on this case. Those will also be included in their entirety at the end.
I 110% disagree with Rashid’s decision not to talk with Spartan Nation. When you make a decision that is supposed to be above board there's no reason to hide from it. While I certainly do not know Rashid on a personal basis, you the reader will have to draw your own conclusions from both the limited answers provided by his spokesperson and the fact that he didn't want to answer my questions directly.
I am even more baffled by the fact that Macomb Dakota High School Principal Mr. Paul Sibley and Athletic Director Mr. Michael Fusco would not take or return my calls and wouldn't even respond with a no. You can read that any way that you want, but the fact that they wouldn't respond reeks of anything less than arrogance in my opinion.
Their silence while certainly, their right, in the opinion of this reporter is damning. And frankly with the information that we’ve uncovered and that you're going to learn, maybe the best decision for them individually was not talking to me. Their actions, in my opinion, were indefensible.
Now with a looming lawsuit (against the MHSAA & Dakota High School that Spartan Nation broke on Friday), they're going to have to go back to the taxpayers of their school district and justify the money that will be spent for a decision that they were not even willing to try to defend. I am not their judge nor am I their jury, that's the job of their taxpayers, the elected school officials, and of course the adjudication process. But it certainly does not look good.
Spartan Nation was informed in late October by a source with the MHSAA (speaking to us on the condition of anonymity) that even though Clarkston had not yet filed an appeal to the MHSAA’s decision to not allow Thomas Kithier to play basketball, that the decision had already been made. I was told by our source with the MHSAA, “I just thought you might want to get ahead of this since it's a Spartan story.” It baffled me and I asked the source if Clarkston had even filed an appeal yet? They told me, “No, but it doesn't matter, he isn't going to play for them.” When I asked about what his options would be since he had already moved and was enrolled at Clarkston, I was told, “I guess he can go out of state.”
I immediately called Coach Dan Fife at Clarkston High School. Fife is an iconic high school basketball coach and along with Tom Izzo, John Beilein, and Greg Kampe is considered among the top four basketball coaches at any level in the state of Michigan. Iconic for his winning, he is also treated with great respect from his colleagues as a winner who does it the right way. Fife’s long and illustrious career stands out like a beacon of light for how to do things. His integrity is nothing less than IMPECCABLE.
A prominent Detroit Athletic Director contacted Spartan Nation after reading some of my Tweets on this subject and said, “Dan Fife does things the right way. He's about the kids. I don't care what the situation is; I'm on the side with Dan Fife.” While he did not want his name in the article, he told me, “I can’t have the MHSAA punish me, my school, or kids for saying that, but it is true.” That sums up the respect from administrators across the state.
As stated, I contacted Coach Dan Fife moments after this conversation (In October) and told him what the MHSAA official had said and the fact that their identity was protected but I was allowed to report it. I asked him for his comment. He told me at the time that he was “Disappointed to hear” what I had to say but that “The MHSAA has informed Clarkston High School if they did not comment to the media about the situation neither would they.” Fife told me, “Since we plan on filing an appeal, or at least I think we're going to file an appeal, I don't have anything to say and would even prefer that you not either until it is done.” Out of respect for Fife and the process, I waited for this article.
Coach Dan Fife admitted last week to remembering that conversation as I just represented it to you and the timing. He said, “It’s a long time for an old man to remember but with this situation, I totally remember telling you that because I didn’t know all the circumstances at the time but I just thought we just need to stay out of it and go about it the right way.”
Clarkston Principal Gary Kaul upon learning of my conversation with Coach Dan Fife and the timeline said, “That was always our understanding that unless we chose to speak to the media about any circumstances surrounding this the MHSAA would not comment in the media as well. We had made a point, we wanted to try to protect Thomas as he integrated into our school and we all made a decision that we were not going to say anything to the media until we could bring this to resolution with the MHSAA.”
Dr. Rod Rock, the Superintendent of Clarkston Schools, added to my information, “We have a letter dated October 31st that says the MHSAA plans to make no public statement but after Clarkston High School makes this matter public the MHSAA may respond to media requests for clarification or background regarding MHSAA rules or procedures.”
Mrs. Jane Kithier is Thomas Kithier’s mother. She has been working in education for 29 years as a teacher and has her Master’s Degree in guidance and counseling. Her job is to give advice to kids pursuing an educational path. Mr. Karl Kithier was a teacher for eight years. Education is the rock of their life.
On Sunday afternoon Spartan Nation spoke EXCLUSIVELY with Jane Kithier, the mother of Thomas. She was gracious with her time and clearly distraught for her son. When she learned that I had been tipped off in late October to the decision being done she told me, “My reaction is that it is an injustice and the MHSAA did not do their due diligence in understanding the entire situation and the academic situation of our son.”
What many do not know is that Kithier had been looking to leave Macomb Dakota High School since prior to his junior year. Prep Schools out of the state of Michigan had reached out to him; both La Lumiere in Indiana where Jaren Jackson, Jr. had come from and Montverde Academy outside of Orlando, Florida. The Kithier's had gone to La Lumiere for a visit prior to Thomas Kithier’s junior season and then visited both schools last spring.
In the process of leaving Macomb Dakota, Mrs. Kithier said, “I did research on public schools in Michigan as well. The purpose was for academic reasons, but these powerhouses (Prep) basketball schools had reached out to us. This past spring and summer we seriously considered two prep schools in La Lumiere and Montverde. I personally looked at the curriculum at Troy Public Schools and Utica Public Schools and Gross Pointe Public Schools.”
Once Thomas Kithier made the decision to leave Macomb Dakota he moved on August 1st to his own apartment in Clarkston. He had turned 18 earlier in the summer and was able to do that. The Kithier’s home was put up for sale a few days later and both parents have now moved to Clarkston with their son. Their home remains for sale on the market with a real estate agent in Macomb.
Principal Kaul says, “Mrs. Kithier contacted us late July and we were first contacted by phone, asked about academic programs at the high school. That’s basically all we talked about was the academic programming at the high school. She established an appointment to meet with me which I believe was probably early August, might have been late July early August. We met, we discussed Thomas’s future plans, post-high school, and after college. She had done her homework and had already looked on our school’s website at the curriculum guide to try to determine what kind of program would best work for Thomas and at Clarkston High School there just so happens to be a math class that was not offered at Dakota and also a media broadcast program that we have at our school which is a little bit different to a lot different than ones at other high schools.”
Kaul went on to add, “Thomas as an 18-year-old was looking to make the move on his own. They were going to put their house up for sale which they had planned to for quite some time but they wanted to get situated and then they’re all currently residing in the district as of right now. But Thomas as an 18-year-old initially made the move on his own to a residence in Clarkston and had that residency established and he enrolled through our enrollment process which that’s the same as it is at every school. You know you have to prove residency. I subsequently had a conversation with the principal (Mr. Paul Sibley at Macomb Dakota). I walked away from that conversation; it was a very pleasant conversation. We talked about how the end of the year went, we discussed the transfer, he had indicated that he would sign the transfer, and then that transfer would be sent to the state. We talked about our various programs that we have and actually in that conversation he had made reference to individual students from southern Macomb that had moved or transferred to their district. He had even discussed, you build up these great programs at high schools and the athletic program is the only one that there’s this increased oversight on. The conversation was very pleasant, there was no animosity in the conversation and then subsequently Jeff Kosin called the State of Michigan (MHSAA) because at this time the ball was kind of rolling, no pun intended, with the process. Thomas was enrolling in Clarkston Schools, he was a resident of Clarkston, and he was a student of ours.”
I asked Clarkston AD Jeff Kosin to then explain to us from his recollection the ensuing conversation with the MHSAA. He said, “Once Gary (Kaul) was done with the process of contacting their administration I wanted to make sure that we were following the rules with the educational transfer form, this is my 2nd year as an athletic director so I’m brand new to the process, I wanted to make sure that everything we were doing was by the book. So I made that phone call to Mr. Rashid. I informed him of the entire story. I gave him the background of it. I didn’t use any names. I simply said I have an 18-year-old student who is moving to our district, he’s moving by himself, our principal talked to their principal, the educational transfer form will be signed by both parties. He asked about the classes because I mentioned that he was coming over for two specific classes that we offer so I know that Tom went back and he said he’s taking more than just those two and I said yes he’s going to be a full-time student but those are the reasons that’s why in his case he’ll be transferring over to our school were based on that math class and that media class that we had offered. So having that conversation were we following things correctly and everything was ‘yes, make sure this is done,’ yep I got that, dotting my i’s and crossing my t’s. And then he had mentioned, ‘Jeff is this kid any good? Who we talking about?’ And I said Tom I’m not going to sugar coat it, I said its Thomas Kithier D1 recruit heading to Michigan State. And his immediate response was ‘Jeff what the hell are we doing?’ It immediately changed the tone, very drastically. He then asked if Dane or Dugan Fife had anything to do with it. And I said absolutely not to my knowledge. I’ve never talked to Thomas Kithier or his mother until he was enrolled as an official student. Coach (Dan) Fife I know has not. I can’t speak for Dane but I don’t see that being an issue. Like I said the conversation changed drastically and then before I got off the phone he just simply references ‘Well if Dakota administration had any balls they wouldn’t sign that form’ and that was the end of the conversation.”
Spartan Nation asked Rashid about his alleged comments, “If Dakota administration had any balls they wouldn’t sign that form,” and he would not speak to us. Through his spokesman, he said, “I do not recall making those comments.” Clearly not a denial.
When the Kithiers met with Fusco the AD from Macomb on August 16, according to Mrs. Kithier he had a lot to say. “August 16th my husband and I met with Mike Fusco the Athletic Director at Dakota High School. He indicated that due to undue influence they would not sign the form (that the Macomb Dakota Principal Sibley had already said he would). My interpretation was that his underlying tone or insinuation that Clarkston and the Loyer family had recruited us to go to Clarkston. Mike Fusco also added that he had a thirty-year relationship with Tom Rashid.”
Rashid is a key part of the MHSAA decision process in finding Kithier ineligible. Despite his saying that the transfer was fine, before finding out the player was leaving his friend of thirty years’ school and reversing his decision. Fusco then referenced that relationship to the Kithiers'.
Again Spartan Nation asked Rashid of his long relationship (including allegedly having either been in Fusco’s wedding OR Fusco being in his) with Fusco and should it have at least implored him to recuse himself from the case. Rashid refused to discuss his relationship with Fusco and whether or not he should recuse himself. Saying only through his spokesman, “His relationship with Mr. Fusco is irrelevant to this conversation.” Something I vehemently disagree with and I think many of you being objective would agree with me.
If Rashid’s relationship to Fusco was “irrelevant,” why did Fusco allegedly reference to the Kithier’s about his “thirty-year relationship with Tom Rashid?” Was Fusco attempting to intimidate the Kithiers'? Was he simply telling the truth and pulling back the curtains in Oz and referencing a good old boys network? Who knows, he wouldn’t talk to me, but with pending litigation, I am sure he will get to address it under oath.
Perhaps Fusco’s attention would have been better served by his district and taxpayers investigating why four members of the Macomb Dakota basketball program allegedly left the school and transferred this season to other schools. When four players transfer out of one program that at least raises red flags of internal problems in my opinion as a reporter. Are they investigating that? Are citizens and taxpayers from that district asking about that?
Again Fusco wouldn’t talk to us to confirm that four players have left, but multiple sources told Spartan Nation that was 100% accurate. Ironically and sadly, Macomb Dakota signed three of the four transfers and those young men are rightfully playing this year, only Kithier sits.
Rock (Superintendent of Clarkston Schools) added, “Yeah we’re pissed off about all of this and how it’s gone down and we started smelling something bad back when Mr. Rashid made the comment about if Dakota had any balls they wouldn’t sign that form. We can go back to August 16th where Mrs. Kithier was speaking to Mr. Fusco and Mr. Fusco made it a point to emphasize that he had a 30-year personal relationship with the MHSAA Associate Director Tom Rashid and that Rashid had declared Thomas ineligible back on August 17th when Mrs. Kithier spoke to him. We have dates earlier than their September 1st notification that Dakota sent to the MHSAA where they had made declarations and we just think this whole thing has a bad odor to it from the very beginning.”
Kaul (Clarkston Principal) added, “We have never experienced this at Clarkston High School. Before this year, I have never even seen, and I’ve been doing this for eight years, an educational transfer form. Now we’ve had students leave our schools for various reasons and I know we’ve had students leave in the past to pursue other athletic opportunities and to say that if I was somewhat naïve to this process at the time we’ve always had the philosophy if you think you have a better educational opportunity, whatever that may be, is it academics, is it because you participate in an extracurricular activity that you have a passion for by all means go for it. And in the conversation that I have had with their principal, if there would have been any type of red flag throughout that conversation that would have been brought up with everybody that is sitting in this room. And so we’re walking into this process as Mr. Kosin kind of said, it was shocking to me after speaking to Jeff after the conversation he had with the MHSAA because we’re just like ok, everything’s good, we’re following the rules and then that was like when the first shoe dropped for us.”
The Kithiers' maintain that Thomas was transferring for academic reasons. Yet, Clarkston had a former player by the name of Dylan Alderson. He had transferred to Clarkston and admitted it was for athletic reasons. The MHSAA let him play. So are you only allowed to transfer for athletic reasons to Clarkston if you do not come from Macomb Dakota where your friend works? I would have loved to ask Mr. Rashid that question.
Coach Dan Fife told me, “When Dylan transferred he did an interview with the Flint Journal I think and his comment to the writer was that he felt he guessed that Foster Loyer helped convince him to come to Clarkston so Tom Rashid called me at that time and said you know this is a violation and my comment to him was you’re telling me that a 17-year-old kid can convince a family to move to Clarkston, sell their home move to Clarkston and buy a home here in Clarkston that isn’t easy we’re expensive here, that doesn’t make sense a 17-year-old can talk two adults into moving to Clarkston but they never not had plans to move to Clarkston. They moved to Clarkston hook, line, and sinker and put their house up for sale. So that was it. That was all I heard from him.”
The MHSAA’s denial of Kithier appears to be even more about the good old boy network than righteous indignation when you understand what he’s saying about the transfer rule when it didn’t involve his friend.
Kosin (Clarkston’s AD) told Spartan Nation about some of Rashid’s comments at a meeting. “At one of our OAA Athletic Director meetings (Oakland Activities Association), we meet monthly, we happened to be at Bloomfield at the Doyle Center, we had a guest speaker it happens every September that we have a representative typically from the MHSAA. The topic of conversation just happened to be transfers within the state of Michigan. I remember a slide show presentation that he (Tom Rashid) had put together. Within that slide show presentation he said numerous times that the policy that we have in the state of Michigan with regards to transfers is a broken policy and that the MHSAA is looking to adopt a new policy starting for the 18 -19 school year and he kind of got our opinions on it, he kind of gave the philosophy behind looking at changing the rules. I know at that point we had Tom Flynn who was the Birmingham Groves AD was in the room and he had just gone through an athletically motivated transfer issue with one of his running backs from West Bloomfield who is currently at West Bloomfield. And he asked point blank Tom Rashid he said, ‘Tom, why as Athletic Directors do we go through this process, this tedious process if at the end of the day everybody is eligible.’ And Tom Rashid said, numerous times, to prove an athletic transfer is very very difficult based on the policies that we have in place, based on the fact that the way you judge and determine transfers is a broken policy that’s why we’re looking to revamp it. And I remember that conversation with Tom Flynn and Tom Rashid just got a little heated. You could tell that Tom Flynn was irritated by it. We were going through the same exact process and I remember sitting at the table with West Bloomfield and the AD at West Bloomfield said, ‘There is no way they can determine an athletic transfer. It’s very difficult to prove it, it’s very difficult to monitor it. You know Tom Rashid said it himself, at least 5 or 6 times within our meeting with all the ADs in the room, that determining and ruling that an athletic transfer is truly an athletically motivated transfer is damn near impossible to determine.’”
Rock (Superintendent Clarkston Schools) added, “I just think that it’s interesting that Mr. Rashid was making those comments since the rulebook clearly states that an 18-year-old student can live on his or her own and participate and be immediately eligible if they’re transferring for academic reasons. Yet, the only thing in the rulebook that addresses that is in terms of what is an athletically motivated transfer. Nowhere does it say was it an academically motivated transfer. We’ve presented information that this is an academically motivated transfer. We presented information that shows the differences in programs that Mrs. Kithier began discussing this by asking us about the culture and climate of our school. The MHSAA has stated flatly that they cannot compare schools academically, that parents cannot compare schools academically, so who can? The only thing that the MHSAA can do is say that you’re ineligible because of these seven reasons or these 5 reasons. A school cannot prove that there is such a thing as an academic transfer which is total nonsense to me. Absolute. So then you get these situations where they are subjectively and selectively enforcing their rules and that are what’s totally and patently unfair to Thomas Kithier.”
Clearly, Rashid was able to find clarity of the rules once it involved his good friend losing a star player. I would have loved to have had this conversation with Rashid, but sadly he wouldn’t.
Kaul (Principal Clarkston High School) also pontificated, “The process itself is convoluted at best and when we went up for our final appeal and were able to meet with the executive council it really does seem like it’s a case where you are guilty as charged until you can prove yourself innocent because if somebody, if another school alleges this is a 100% athletic transfer, this is a sports factory and these kids are moving in, even when you can lay out what seems to be evidence which shows well no it’s not. Here are our academic programs. They were other issues that the family did not see that Dakota was a good environment or a healthy environment for their child anymore. It’s almost as if they look at that and say, Yea well thanks but look what it says on the paper and that was very frustrating to all of us.”
Superintendent Rock stated, “In the very first letter from the Dakota High School dated September 1st which is signed by their Athletic Director Mike Fusco they didn’t just not sign the form, they gave one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, they threw everything they could at the wall to see what would stick to make sure that Thomas wasn’t ever going to play basketball again.”
But here is the thing that makes no sense to Spartan Nation. For the MHSAA and Macomb Dakota to find that the Kithiers had made the transfer for athletic reasons, shouldn’t they have at least asked them pertinent questions?
Think about this in light of the good old boy network. The MHSAA NEVER asked the Kithiers these questions:
- Did Coach Izzo or any member of his staff, Dane Fife included, at any time try to influence you or your son to transfer to Clarkston?
- Did anyone at Michigan State ever try to assert influence over your son to get him to go to Clarkston?
- Did anyone from or at Clarkston, including Coach Dan Fife, try to influence your son to go to Clarkston?
- Did Thomas have any contact with Coach Fife or anyone on the Clarkston staff try to influence him to transfer to Clarkston?
My questions to Mrs. Kithier would include:
- Did the MHSAA ask you, your son or your husband any of those questions?
- How can they rule that there was influence if they didn’t ask you, your husband or Thomas?
Mrs. Kithier informed Spartan Nation that the answer to numbers one through four are no and for my two questions the answer to number one is no and number two, “I have no idea.” Is the reason they didn’t ask simply because of what Spartan Nation was tipped off to and the fix was in? Is this the good old boy network in play? Their silence would seem to an objective person that is more of the good old boy network instead of righteous indignation.
Ven Johnson (Johnson Law PLC) is co-counsel (along with Steve Fishman) for the Kithier case. He told Spartan Nation EXCLUSIVELY, “If you are going to claim that you are doing an investigation and if you are going to deprive a scholar-athlete of playing sports, especially his senior year, which is a huge decision, then you better do your homework. You better actually do an independent investigation. Before you make accusations that are not just by the way about Thomas, but obviously toward Coach Fife at Clarkston or his staff, Coach (Tom) Izzo at State or his staff, these are serious allegations. That could have serious ramifications for both of those institutions; you better do your homework. I guarantee you that they have no information, whatsoever because it doesn’t exist, that anybody ever influenced anything relative to Thomas other than their own assumptions. Which if they had called up Thomas, an 18-year-old since June 29, 2017, as an adult, who is legally responsible for his own decisions, had they simply had the courtesy and professionalism to contact my clients or all three of my clients they would have found out the truth. Maybe this whole thing could have been avoided.”
I asked the gentleman from Clarkston if they thought that Rashid’s comments that his relationship with Fusco was “irrelevant” are fair. Their answers won’t surprise you.
Rock said, “I’ve looked at the newspapers dating back to the late 1980s where Mr. Rashid, Mr. Fusco, Mr. Roberts are quoting about athletic transfers to the parochial schools at that time and Mr. Rashid made a comment back then in the late 1980s that they can’t, those school administrators can’t police what alumni and others say to 8th graders about which high schools they attend. So they’ve had this relationship for a very very long time and I think its absolute nonsense to just dismiss the idea that what happened after Mr. Rashid made that comment to our athletic director and said if they had any balls they wouldn’t sign it. Is it just a coincidence that they came up with a complaint a couple of days later? Doesn’t seem like a coincidence to me and fine if that’s the case then just produce the documents that show that there was nothing to do with it, that there were no phone calls made or emails, we just want justice for Thomas. So, if their hands are clean, great, prove it. Your statement that you were tipped off by the MHSAA seems to be a contradiction of many things that they’ve told us along the way.”
Kosin additionally added, “I guess a side note on there, that educational transfer form that’s not meant to be signed by the athletic director. That form is meant to be signed by the principal of Dakota, just as Gary Kaul’s name was on there. My name is not on that educational transfer form. So there is no reason why that form would have been in Mr. Fusco’s hands and there’s no reason why he would have written the complaint. I feel as though if the complaint would have been made it would have been made from the Principal Paul Sibley, not from Mike Fusco. So, I do feel as though there is a past there. It’s tough to not look at that I guess. The fact that Tom Rashid is part of the executive committee at the MHSAA just leads you to believe that the decision was already made before this committee got together. Is he being made an example?”
Now I told you from the beginning my endeavor was to be fair. One mistake I think Clarkston made was not asking Rashid to recuse himself from the case. Their answers were poignant when I pressed them on that.
Rock took it head on, “No, we did not ask that and in retrospect, we should have. And I did in a communication with Mr. Roberts (John E. Roberts, Executive Director MHSAA) ask, there’s notes from him, from Mr. Roberts, that say that the person who investigates this matter will present Mr. Roberts with documentation. So I asked for that documentation and I asked about if there may be some sort of undue influence from the MHSAA and he said that, Mr. Roberts said, that he conducted most of the investigation himself and so that was his follow up to me.”
I leave you with this. I was told by a prominent West Michigan Athletic Director, “The time has come for the state of Michigan (MHSAA) to undergo holistic changes for the MHSAA leadership or simply for the schools to start a new organization?” I asked 10 state of Michigan high school athletic directors that same question. All from around the state and all on the condition of anonymity and all ten said that they agreed.
Here is what I have learned:
- Rashid, Sibley, and Fusco will not sit down with me.
- Sibley agreed to the transfer.
- Rashid agreed as well until he learned that the player was from his close friend Fusco’s school. Rashid made his opinion clear when after learning whom the player was, he said, “Well if Dakota administration had any balls they wouldn’t sign that form.”
- Macomb Dakota allegedly signed the other three players who transferred from Macomb Dakota basketball last season, but refused to sign Kithier’s.
- Fusco invoked, “That he had a thirty-year relationship with Tom Rashid.” Why would you brag about your relationship with the man that is essentially judge and jury if it was “irrelevant” as Rashid claims to Spartan Nation through his spokesman?
- Why would the transfer form that is according to Clarkston supposed to be signed by the Principal (Sibley, who agreed to do it) signed by the Athletic Director in Fusco?
- Even though the Kithiers maintain it was an academic transfer, the MHSAA says it was athletically motivated. Other players transferred for open athletic reasons and have been allowed to play.
- I was told that there is a player (a youth so no names) in Detroit who is a senior on his fourth high school in four years. The AD mentioned previously from Detroit told me again on the condition of anonymity fearing repercussions from the MHSAA for his school, “So they rule after a school protests that he can play for his fourth school but Kithier can’t? Maybe this is about Clarkston or Michigan State, but if that kid can play, no doubt Kit (Thomas Kithier) should be able.”
- Rashid said publicly alleged that the transfer rule was broken before it applied to a situation that hit so close to home and suddenly clarity was found.
Finally, perhaps the most disturbing thing we have found. Last year Macomb Dakota accepted the transfer of another player who was a teammate of a then-current Dakota player in the AAU circuit. Both players like Kithier and Loyer were bound for college D1 level. Macomb Dakota had no issues with his transfer and neither allegedly did Rashid and the MHSAA because the player was never ruled ineligible. The player was allowed to play and the two are now on a division one college team here in the state. We are in no way alleging impropriety on their part, we will keep them nameless.
So, did the Macomb Dakota school district suddenly have an epiphany that they were wrong last year? Is that why they are silent? How about Rashid? I don’t know, but they all have my number and I would love to talk to them about it.
I said in the first paragraph this was not about Thomas Kithier. A reasonable conclusion I think is that transfers stink. But they are part of the system. This one reminds me of an old-time Hollywood movie where decisions are made in smoke-filled rooms where the proverbial ruling class dictates to the proletariat. I tried to talk to all parties. Some didn’t want to and that is sad. It wasn’t about Thomas Kithier; I just wish it didn’t seem about the good old boy network. This is about a kid.
A very prominent Mid-Michigan AD said to me about the MHSAA this week, “They spent I believe close to six million dollars on a lawsuit that could have been fixed quickly before. How much will they lose now of our money? That comes straight from the kids they are supposed to serve and this is a joke.”
I agree. The Kithier’s attorneys would encourage them to drop the suit immediately if the MHSAA would drop the ban. The Kithiers' are in this and they won’t back down from the fight. I only hope for the good of the kids the MHSAA does.
I would champion and love to see the MHSAA tighten down on transfers or just let them happen. But they can’t be stuck in the middle, where it looks like decisions are made on friends in the back, smoke-filled rooms making choices. Righteous indignation or the good old boy network?
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Here is the entire statement as promised from the MHSAA and their spokesman John Johnson.
MEDIA ALERT: In order to bring additional understanding to a recently publicized transfer of a high-profile basketball player between member high schools, the MHSAA is providing the following pertinent facts in understanding the matter of the 12th grader’s transfer to Clarkston High School from Macomb Dakota.
- The student’s change of residence during the summer of 2017 was on his own – without his parents – to a condominium in Clarkston. This made him ineligible at Clarkston until Jan. 15, 2018, without the completion of an Educational Transfer Form signed by principals from both Clarkston and Dakota High School.
- An Educational Transfer Form is required for transfers that meet three exceptions to the MHSAA Transfer Rule: 1. Change of residence by a student between the homes of divorced parents or parents who never married; 2. Change of residence by an 18-year-old who moves without his parents; 3. Change of residence to a boarding school. This basketball player is 18 years old. The Educational Transfer Form requires both school principals to certify that the transfer is “not significantly related to or motivated by athletics.” The student’s previous school did not complete the form.
- The student’s previous school then made a formal allegation that the transfer was primarily for athletic reasons and that the student should be ineligible for a total of 180 scheduled school days under the Athletic Motivated Transfer Regulation.
- Clarkston had opportunities to respond to the Dakota allegation, and did so. The allegation was then confirmed by the MHSAA Executive Director. Clarkston appealed to the MHSAA Executive Committee, which confirmed that the transfer was primarily for athletic reasons.
- In neither Clarkston’s written appeal nor its presentation to the Executive Committee has it been stated that the family has made a full and complete change of residence into the Clarkston school district. The mother’s affidavit of Nov. 13, 2017, attested that she and her husband did not reside in Clarkston with their son, but in Macomb, Mich. Under the Athletic Motivated Transfer Regulation, a full subsequent move by the family would not reduce the 180-day period of ineligibility.
- The MHSAA office found that Clarkston had not partaken in undue influence (recruiting) to secure the transferring athlete. This point was acknowledged by the school itself in writing on Nov. 14. It was reiterated when the MHSAA handed down the Executive Committee decision earlier this week.