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It appears that everyone is talking about where the championship rounds of the Michigan High School Athletic Association basketball tournaments should be played.

This has become a topic because our traditional site, Michigan State University’s Breslin Student Events Center, is not available to host the Semifinals and Finals of the girls tournament in 2018 and 2020 or the boys tournament in 2019, in both cases because the facility must remain open for MSU’s women’s basketball team should it earn the privilege of hosting first and second round games of the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament.

It is important that the people listening know that most of the people talking have little knowledge of what facilities are actually available in 2018 and beyond.

For example, The Palace of Auburn Hills, Little Caesars Arena in Detroit and Van Andel Arena are not available in 2018, nor is a sentimental favorite for the girls tournament, Central Michigan University.

By mid-May, the MHSAA will have announced decisions for 2018, and likely for that one year only. Between now and the end of 2017, the MHSAA will be evaluating site options for both tournaments, boys and girls, as well as potential scheduling changes for both the regular season and MHSAA tournaments that could alter what facilities are needed and when. This could increase opportunities to use NCAA Division I institutions, and/or this could reduce or eliminate the need for those facilities.

It would be unfortunate if we turn ourselves inside-out and upside-down to avoid NCAA conflicts. Some of the scheduling scenarios being studied would seriously stress District and Regional tournament sites and management as well as overwork the ranks of our tournament ready basketball officials. Other scheduling scenarios would adversely affect other winter sports or increase overlap with fall sports or spring sports. We need to move carefully, and with broad consensus.

There is a desire to host the championships of the girls and boys tournaments at the same venue, but there is no legal obligation to do so. There is a desire to build on traditions established at Michigan State University, but conflicts and costs make that unlikely to continue. There is a desire to please everyone, but that won’t happen.


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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 45 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 nine years, and is a past-chair of the board of directors of the Michigan Society of Association Executives. He is chair of the board of trustees for the Capital Region Community Foundation for 2018.

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.