Clarkston official details sticking point in Thomas Kithier case

David Goricki
The Detroit News
Thomas Kithier

The MHSAA on Friday released further details about why it banned Michigan State-bound power forward Thomas Kithier from playing his senior year at Clarkston after transferring from Macomb Dakota.

The MHSAA says Dakota did not complete an Educational Transfer Form, which would have cleared the way for Kithier to transfer. Kithier needed the form, in part, because when he moved to the Clarkston school district, his parents did not immediately move with him.

“An Educational Transfer Form is required for transfers that meet three exceptions to the MHSAA Transfer Rule,” the MHSAA wrote in a press release. “1. Change of residence by a student between the homes of divorced parents or parents who were never married. 2. Change of residence by an 18-year-old who moves without his parents. 3. Change of residence to a boarding school.”

The form also requires both school principals to certify that the transfer is “not significantly related to or motived by athletics.” Dakota did not complete the form, the MHSAA said, because it believed Kithier’s moved for athletic reasons.

Kithier, 18, moved into a condominium in Clarkston, without his parents, in the summer of 2017. Mary Ellen Rowe, marketing director of Clarkston Community Schools, said the move of Kithier’s parents into Clarkston was delayed due to the death of Kithier’s maternal grandmother in July:

“The Kithiers’ delayed move to Clarkston was related to Mrs. Kithier’s desire to be near her ailing mother. It is to my understanding that they stayed in Macomb to care for Thomas’ grandmother before she passed away in July.”

Rowe said Kithier and his parents are all living together in Clarkston now and their house in the Dakota school district is for sale.

The MHSAA said Dakota “made a formal allegation” that Kithier transferred for athletic reasons. Clarkston was given the opportunity to respond to the allegation, and did so, but the MHSAA Executive Committee determined Dakota was correct.

The Executive Committee is made up of Scott Grimes of Grand Haven, Fred Smith of Stevensville, Vic Michaels of Detroit, Pat Watson of West Bloomfield, Kris Isom of Adrian, Cheri Meier of Okemos, Chris Miller of Gobles and John Thompson of Brighton.

It's interesting that Dakota was involved in a similar situation last year, but from the opposite perspective. Jack Ballantyne transferred from Warren De La Salle to Dakota to play his senior season with Jermaine Jackson; they were teammates for several years with the AAU team The Family. The two now play together at Detroit Mercy.

“We’ve been playing ball together for quite some time, maybe like we were 10,” Ballantyne said on his college signing day. “We played AAU together every single year and we’ve always wanted to play on the same high school team.”

What’s the next move for Clarkston?

Clarkston can appeal the Executive Committee decision to the MHSAA Representative Council, but that group is not scheduled to meet again until March.

“That’s kind of the last step in the appeal process, so right now we’re supporting the family in any way that we can and we’re exploring our options to see if we can get that Representative Council to meet sooner,” Rowe said. “That’s really all we can do right now.”