Detroit — Lawyers for benched basketball star Thomas Kithier on Tuesday night filed an emergency motion for a preliminary injunction, seeking to get him reinstated to the Clarkston High School team by Jan. 15, the start of the second semester.
In the motion, Kithier's lawyers argue that if he remains ineligible the entire season while the lawsuit plays out, he "would have no adequate remedy ..."
Judge Marianne O. Battani, of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, can rule on her own timeline.
Kithier, 18, a Michigan State signee, is embroiled in a bitter, headline-grabbing battle between his old high school, Macomb Dakota, and his new school, Clarkston, with the Michigan High School Athletic Association at the center of the saga. He's now suing the MHSAA, as well as officials at Dakota and its umbrella district, Chippewa Valley Schools, seeking the right to play, plus punitive damages. The lawsuit was filed by his lawyers, Ven Johnson and Steven Fishman, in federal court Friday.
Fishman said Tuesday night he’s optimistic to get a ruling in a timely manner, one way or the other.
Kithier played three seasons at Dakota before deciding last summer to transfer to Clarkston, where he moved in August. But Dakota never signed off on the transfer waiver, claiming the move was athletically motivated. The MHSAA agreed, forcing Kithier to sit out 180 days, or his entire senior season. A typical, uncontested transfer would've cost Kithier just the first semester, which is why his lawyers are asking for a return by Jan. 15.
In an affidavit filed this week, Kithier's mother, Jane, claims the family's move was, indeed, academically motivated, and that while Thomas was deciding what he wanted to do, he was subject to harassing text messages from the coach at Dakota, Paul Tocco. Tocco has declined comment.
The lawsuit also claims there was "undue influence" on the part of Michael Fusco, Dakota's athletic director, and Thomas Rashid, a high-up official with the MHSAA. The two have a decades-long friendship. An MHSAA spokesman has called that friendship, "irrelevant" to the case.