Clarkston transfer (Senior) Thomas Kithier moved to the area from Macomb Dakota this summer, today in court he was denied a preliminary injunction to join the Wolves on January 15th, hoping to overturn the Michigan High School Athletic Association ruling. Today 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.

MHSAA attorney Scott Eldridge told WXYZ:

“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.”

Kithier is committed to play at Michigan State next season and wanted to play at Clarkston during his senior season, a Michigan state champion last season. Clarkston Mr. Basketball candidate Foster Loyer, a McDonald’s All-American nominee, is also committed to play for the Spartans next year.

The lawsuit against the MHSAA is set to start January 15th, but by the time the decision is finalized (either way) the basketball season will be over.

The ruling for the MHSAA comes after a Tennessee judge recently gave two Memphis East players an injunction that overruled the TSAAA’s eligibility ruling and they are both are allowed to play while the case is in court.

Court Filing

  • View complete court filing – Thomas Kithier

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    Plaintiff will not be able to show that any fundamental right has been violated in this case. While the road may be long, Plaintiff’s counsel has no apprehension about challenging any case law on which Defendants could rely, whether in this Court or any higher Court. Likewise, should discovery prove that Defendants violated other rights of Plaintiff’s, such as his right to equal protection under the law, Plaintiff’s counsel is prepared to make whatever amendments are necessary to the pleadings in order to pursue any and all claims supported by the evidence. There are both long-term and short-term ramifications to this case, and this dispute is not going to be resolved quickly. The purpose of the present motion is to ensure that Thomas does not needlessly suffer while the lawyers and the Courts debate about his rights.

     

    C.

    Plaintiff will be irreparably harmed if this Court does not grant this motion

    As is explained above, litigation regarding Constitutional rights is rarely fast or easy. Every day from January 15th on that Plaintiff is not permitted to participate in athletics is a day that Plaintiff’s rights continue to be violated. By the time this Court and the appellate courts are done deciding the merits of this case, Thomas’s senior year will be over and his college career will have begun. While other students will benefit from the final rulings in Thomas’s favor, he should not be made to suffer while he bravely fights this injustice. Simply put, where an issue of a high school

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    student’s Constitutional rights is involved, there is no reason to not err on the side of caution and allow that student to have the full benefits of enrollment in his school while the slow wheels of justice turn. As the Supreme Court has explained, “The key word in this consideration is irreparable. Mere injuries, however substantial in terms of money, time and energy necessarily expended in the absence of a stay, are not enough. The possibility that adequate compensatory or other corrective relief will be available at a later date, in the ordinary course of litigation, weighs heavily against a claim of irreparable harm.”

    Sampson v. Murray

    , 415 U.S. 61, 90, 94 S. Ct. 937, 39 L. Ed. 2d 166 (1974). Here, there is no action that can be taken at a later date that will remedy this wrong. If Thomas is not permitted to join his team now, and his later determined to have had his rights violated, that determination will not take away the fact that he was unjustly prevented from fully participating.

    D.

    Nobody will be harmed by the grant of a preliminary injunction

    Contrary to Defendants’ response, there will not be any substantial harm to any party or non-party if this motion is granted. Defendants, whose athletic programs have long benefited from the participation of transfer students, are trying to tell this Court that the competitive balance favors denying this motion and that the grant of this motion harms other student athletes.

    The opposite is true

    . Defendants have sent a very loud message to children throughout this state: if you wish to pursue a better academic future for yourself, you do so at the jeopardy of your ability to participate in extra-curricular activities. There are other students watching this case. Those students may be in inferior schools and may wish to seek a better future for themselves, as Thomas did. If those students continue to see that their decision to transfer will necessitate giving up the right to participate in activities with their classmates, they will only be dissuaded to act in their best interest. And who will benefit? The coaches, teachers, athletic directors, superintendents, principals and officials who seek to maintain the success of their athletic programs regardless of the best interests of the children they are supposed to serve.

    Conclusion

    This Court need not decide, at this stage, whether Defendants violated Plaintiff’s constitutional rights. Such a determination would be impossible where no discovery has been had and Defendants have made no showing regarding the rationality of their rule. While Plaintiff will ultimately prevail on his Constitutional arguments, the more important question for the Court now is whether a preliminary injunction (or, if the Court finds appropriate, a temporary restraining order), shouldbe issued while the parties litigate the important subjects presented by this ca

 

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