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Thomas Kithier gets hearing date that could rule him eligible to play

Thomas Kithier gets hearing date that could rule him eligible to play

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By Jared Purcell, MLive
Updated Jan 4, 4:30 PM; Posted Jan 4, 2:41 PM
There may be a chance that Thomas Kithier could see action on the basketball court this winter, and the decision could come as soon as next week. Kithier is in the early stages of a lawsuit against members of the Michigan High School Athletic Association and Chippewa Valley Schools after he was ruled ineligible to play high school basketball this winter for Clarkston High School after his transfer from Macomb Dakota High School was deemed athletically motivated. The ruling was made Dec. 7 and, according to MHSAA rules, Kithier must sit out the remainder of the basketball season.

Because of the uncertainty when a lawsuit would be finished, Kithier’s lawyers Ven Johnson and Steven Fishman filed an emergency motion for a preliminary injunction to make Kithier eligible for competition Jan. 15 while the lawsuit proceeds.

Kithier and his lawyers, along with the defendants, have been served notice to appear in front of Judge Marianne O. Battani at the United States District Court, Theodore Levin U.S. Courthouse in Detroit at 2 p.m. Jan. 11 to have a hearing on the motion.

The defendants listed in the case are Chippewa Valley School District, CVSD superintendent Ron Roberts, Dakota principal Paul Sibley, Dakota athletic director Michael Fusco, MHSAA executive director Jack Roberts and MHSAA assistant director Tom Rashid. John L. Miller and Timothy J. Mullins of Giarmarco, Mullins & Horton, P.C will represent Chippewa Valley Schools, Ron Roberts, Sibley and Fusco.

Thomas Kithier, shown here as a member of the Macomb Dakota basketball team, is currently in a lawsuit against the MHSAA and Chippewa Valley Schools in hopes of getting his eligibility reinstated. In early December, the MHSAA ruled his transfer to Clarkston this year as athletically motivated, thus making him ineligible to play.

The Jan. 15 date that Kithier’s lawyers are seeking for a return to eligibility is the day that transfers typically become eligible for competition, as it marks the end of the one-semester of ineligibility required in general MHSAA transfer situations. Kithier was ruled ineligible for 180 days by the MHSAA, prohibiting him from playing any sport at Clarkston for the school year.

Whether the eventual ruling of the lawsuit is in Kithier’s favor, the 18-year-old senior could possibly miss the entire basketball season — which ends in late March — if the preliminary injunction is not granted.

Kithier, who is a top area talent and a Michigan State basketball signee, transferred from Dakota to Clarkston in June. Dakota did not sign off on Kithier’s required transfer papers and instead reported a complaint to the MHSAA of an athletically motivated move. Clarkston, the defending state champions in Class A, also have a Michigan State signee in guard Foster Loyer, who was an AAU teammate of Kithier.

The MHSAA claimed to have found enough information to rule Kithier’s transfer as athletically motivated, which is against MHSAA rules.

Kithier’s parents cited academic reasons for their son’s transfer while Kithier himself has claimed harassment by Dakota coaches and staff.