A Different League

Less than two years after The Palace of Auburn Hills completed $40 million of improvements to an already magnificent facility, there is serious talk of bulldozing The Palace to the ground after the NBA's Pistons bolt for downtown Detroit.

I once bought an IBM 360 mainframe computer for the Michigan High School Athletic Association office that was out of date within 12 months; and I felt terrible about it. But it was a modest amount and we did it with our own money. What is happening in Auburn Hills is, quite literally, in an entirely different league.

These developments may affect the MHSAA which has conducted one of its largest and most prestigious events – the Individual Wrestling Finals – at The Palace since 2002, and has a contract for this event through 2019. The tournament involves about 1,000 student-athletes each March.

I confess that it is difficult for an organization grounded in never-changing values to react well to the ever- and fast-changing landscape created by professional sports and major college football and basketball in their insatiable pursuits of revenue. We must, of course, and very carefully; but it's maddening.


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About the Author

Jack Roberts

Jack Roberts has been at the helm of the MHSAA as its Executive Director since 1986, implementing programs and overseeing tournament administration and regulations for the Association which boasts 1,500 member schools, 10,000 registered officials and 13,000 head coaches.

During the last 44 years, Roberts has spoken to educator and athletic groups, business leaders and civic groups in almost every state and five Canadian provinces. He is one of the nation's most articulate advocates for educational athletics.

Roberts has served on the board of directors of the National Association of Sports Officials (NASO), is in his second term on the board of the National Federation of State High School Associations, and is the first chairman of the NFHS Network board of directors. He has been board president for the Refugee Development Center for seven years, and is a past-chair of the board of directors of the Michigan Society of Association Executives. He is vice chair and secretary of the board of trustees for the Capital Region Community Foundation.

He is a 1970 graduate of Dartmouth College, where he played defensive safety for the Ivy League's winningest football team during that span, and he sang in Dartmouth's close harmony vocal group.

His wife, Peggy, has retired from a 30-year career in social services, and is serving as president of the board of the Fenner Nature Conservancy in Lansing.