Public vs Private MHSAA Issues
Jim Derocher, President of the Michigan High School Athletic Association, Inc. writes on page 2 of the 2009-2010 MHSAA Handbook. "The Michigan High School Athletic Association, Inc., is a private, voluntary association for public, private and parochial secondary schools which choose to join and participate in the organization. The primary function of the Association is to conduct post-season tournaments and help member schools have rules and guidelines to follow and enforce locally to promote equitable competition." That same publication states on page 12 that one of the four Purposes of the MHSAA, Inc. is to, "Promote uniformity, predicability and competitive equity in the application of eligibility rules for athletic contests."
Private Schools account for 15% of all schools while Public Schools account for 85% of all schools in the State of Michigan. Across the board for all High School sports(male & Female), the less than 15% of private schools are winning on average up to 50% and more, in some sports, of MHSAA State Championships.
It is our belief that despite the MHSAA's best effort, athletic competition in Michigan is anything but equitable, uniform and competitive as supported by the data from the MHSAA State Tournaments.
Public and Private Schools have significantly different business models and should not intersect on the Playing fields of high school sports for MHSAA State playoffs with the current rules favoring private schools. Every private school can choose to conduct business like any and every other private school just as every public school can choose to conduct business like any and every public schools. However, Public schools can never conduct business like a private school:
Private schools have discriminate selection processes.
Public Schools must accommodate and take anyone.
Private schools have unlimited zip codes.
Public schools have limited zip codes even with school of choice. All aspects of School of Choice are strictly regulated by Michigan Department of Education and the Schools of Choice provision in section 105 and 105c of the State School Aid Act. As of 2010-2011 there were 552 School districts: 450 Districts were school of choice and 102 were No school of choice. Only 6.2% of all students in the state of Michigan chose SOC, which is for K-12 and not just high school. Districts that choose SOC must choose between 2 plans of SOC: Communities bumping up to one’s district or Counties Bumping up to one’s county. Regardless of Choice of plan, each school must establish maximum enrollment for each class and the total number of classroom seats available. After this is established specific application procedures and timeline must be followed as described in the legislation. Furthermore, when the number of applicants exceeds the number of seats for a high school, strict guidelines must be followed for a “random draw” and waiting list. All of these procedures must be documented in detail for public record. Private schools have none of these procedures in their discriminate selection process. A Student-athlete can be guaranteed entrance to a private school but not a School of Choice. As private schools target market student-athletes, private schools can guarantee enrollment to the Student-Athletes of their choosing. This option is not guaranteed or available to Public school programs and would violate MHSAA rules if public schools even target-marketed student-athletes in their own SOC or No SOC districts. This is a major advantage to private school athletic programs.
Private schools do not have to comply with FOIA.
Public Schools must comply with FOIA. This is significant because the undue influence rule cannot be properly applied without having full access to the private schools financial records. For example, a student-athlete receiving financial aid from a private school is not going to turn around and bite the hand that is feeding him/her and go after the Undue Influence rule against his/her own private school. Public Schools have Full Disclosure of all finances and all enrollment procedures and processes. Private schools do not have to show the discriminate selection processes. Private schools do not have to open financial records to show per student revenues, per student-athlete revenues, academic scholarships, standards for academic scholarship, demographics, cultural and ethnic diversity, and many more items important in the fair and reasonable application of the MHSAA established rules. The MHSAA states very clearly in an issue of their published magazine "Benchmark" they are not an “investigative” agency. Obviously, This is not the NCAA. If the MHSAA is not an investigative agency and they make up rules how can they possibly know if the rules are being broken without complete access to both public and private school records?
Private School Business Plan: Private schools win State Championships or have continued and consistent playoff success on this uneven playing field and then they market their success implying they are "better" than the local public schools. They us this current system to build their business model around enrollment of Student-Athletes. As this process goes on and the Student-Athletes from Public Elementary and Public High Schools are target-marketed by the "better" Private school programs and choose to leave the public school system based upon the uneven playing field results, the Public School system loses on average $8,500 per student per year. That is $34,000 per year for each student leaving.
If Public and Private Schools are going to compete according to the MHSAA goal to "Promote uniformity, predicability and competitive equity in the application of eligibility rules for athletic contests" then the playing field must be leveled for Public Schools or the intersection of High School Sports of Public and Private Schools needs to be separated by the MHSAA.
Public Schools need to operate in the best interest of the Public School Student-Athletes and not allow uneven playing fields and/or apple and orange comparisons to be used against them. It costs public schools tax dollars in their respective communities.
Proposal for “Separation” of Public and Private High School Athletics for the State Playoff Tournament in Michigan
1) “Separation” not “Regulation.” Regulation is not working. Regulation does not address nor resolve issues between Public and Private School Athletics.
2) Re-Classification, “Factor/Multiplier” changes, and “Seeding” do not address nor resolve issues between Public and Private School Athletics.
Talking Points & Issues:
1) Uneven Playing Field. Private schools have unlimited zip codes throughout the State, Country, and World to draw athletes from. Public Schools have limited zip codes. What about School of Choice? “School of Choice” is an academic based program not an athletic based program in a limited number of school districts. Furthermore, “School of Choice” has been proven to be a “non-significant” statistical factor for public school athletic programs throughout the State of Michigan.
2) Transfer Rule and “Boarding” of Student Athletes.
3) Three Player Rule: Uneven application for Private and Public Schools.
4) Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Private Schools do not have to disclose financial records for FOIA. Furthermore, Private schools do not have to disclose academic records (application data, admission data, and retention data) for FOIA. Lastly, Private schools do not have to disclose demographic records (including student names and addresses) for FOIA.
5) “Closest non-public school” rule.
6) “Undue influence” section of MHSAA Handbook.
7) Language with regard to transfers which are athletically motivated or involve undue influence.
The Separation of Public and Private High School Athletics for the State Playoff Tournament in Michigan.
4 Divisions: Private, Public 1, Public 2, and Public 3.
All private schools across the State of Michigan will compete against each other for the “Private” school State Championship.
All Public Schools will be divided into three divisions based upon a school’s student population size. There will be a State Championship for each respective division.
The private schools are welcome to create divisions, for the participating private schools in the tournament, based upon private school sizes.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1) Are Public Schools trying to put private schools out of business? No, Absolutely NOT! This is about public schools protecting their own interest in athletics just as the private schools protect their interests in athletics.
2) Absent change at the State Level (MHSAA) what can public schools do in the mean time?
Public Schools can choose not to schedule any private schools in athletic contests during the regular season until the public and private schools are separated in the State Playoffs.
3) Would Public Schools be encouraged to schedule private schools after the separation of Public and Private schools in the State Playoffs?
Public schools would be encouraged to manage their schedules in the best interests of their respective programs and would not be encouraged to exclude Private schools from their schedules.
4) What have Private Schools done wrong that Public Schools are "picking" on them?
Private Schools are not being accused of doing anything "wrong or bad." The issues/talking points mentioned above have nothing to do with "right" and "wrong" or "good" and "bad."
As Todd Krygier, Novi Varsity Hockey Coach, was quoted in the June 16, 2010 Hockey Week Article, HS showcase sparks potential playoff reform-Public Schools seek separate state playoffs for public and private playoffs, "I think that the private schools have done an outstanding job and have acted in the best interest of their programs, but we are just trying to move our programs in a direction that best meets the needs of student-athletes in each of our communities."
Public and Private Schools have different business models. The issues for Public and Private schools are "different." The issues/talking points above highlight a few of the "differences" that negatively impact the Public schools vs the Private schools in athletic competition and the stated goals of the MHSAA.