The MHSAA is among the nation’s earliest organizing statewide athletic associations, and it has a history of openness and diversity.
As early as the association’s second reorganization in 1924, nonpublic schools were a part of the MHSAA’s 260-school membership, including 22 Catholic schools throughout the state and Holland Christian High School.
Unlike many southern statewide high school athletic associations, the MHSAA’s membership has always been racially integrated.
Unlike some “statewide” associations that even today do not include the schools of their largest city, the Detroit Public Schools have been MHSAA members throughout the association’s history, although for 25 years those schools chose not to travel outside their immediate area and did not enter MHSAA Basketball Tournaments.
The first public school academies came into MHSAA membership in the mid 1990s, almost as soon as they were authorized by state law and the first were chartered. By the start of 2000, there were 19 charter high schools in the MHSAA’s membership.
As the 2011-12 school year ends, the high school level membership of the MHSAA consists of 602 “traditional” public high schools, 50 public school academies with a variety of target audiences and curricular emphases, and 111 nonpublic schools, a few secular but most representing an increasing diversity of religious orientation.
The MHSAA’s diversity has been encouraged by its policy – first in the nation – to not charge membership dues or assess tournament entry fees or sports sponsorship fees that were once universal, except in Michigan, and are still common among statewide high school associations across the country. There is no financial obstacle to MHSAA membership.
The MHSAA’s diversity is further encouraged by the fact that schools with daily onsite attendance as low as 15 students are eligible for MHSAA membership. And no, it’s not easy to operate an association whose smallest school, Swartz Creek-The Valley School, has an enrollment of 19, while its largest schools, Shelby Township-Utica Eisenhower, has an enrollment of 2,772. Where 164 high schools have an enrollment of 1,000 or more and 87 schools have fewer than 100 students. But they are all welcomed!