The following questions and responses are provided to serve as helpful guidelines for common inquiries received by MHSAA personnel. Please be advised that for eligibility issues, all cases are different and the only official interpretations are those received in writing. Do not make any final determinations of eligibility based on the information which follows on this page.
The most efficient method of communication with the MHSAA on eligibility questions is through your athletic director or principal.
How is the MHSAA Funded?
The MHSAA receives no government funding in any form and schools pay no membership dues to belong to the MHSAA and do not pay any entry fee to participate in MHSAA tournaments. More than 90 percent of the MHSAA’s revenue is from the sale of tickets at District, Regional and Final MHSAA tournaments. The MHSAA receives no funding from schools’ regular-season competitions. Of the other sources of MHSAA funding, the major ones are registration fees for contest officials, sponsorships and advertising, and investment income.
Who Makes the MHSAA's Rules?
The Representative Council has the authority and responsibility to consider proposals for minimum standards for rules governing student eligibility and maximum limitations of rules regulating the competition between schools which choose to join the MHSAA and participate in its tournaments. Actual playing rules for the sports involved are promulgated by the National Federation of State High School Associations in most sports. Most ideas for rules changes percolate up from member schools or their leagues or associations of coaches, administrators or officials. Sport-related proposals are referred to sport committees which consist primarily of coaches but also administrators and officials. Proposals that receive committee support move on to the MHSAA’s Representative Council for consideration.
How Does A Person Become A Member of the Representative Council?
Any individual who is a representative of a member school (faculty member or board of education member) may become a candidate for the MHSAA Representative Council. Each year the February Bulletin of the MHSAA, which is available in print and online, outlines the procedures that candidates must follow and identifies the positions that are open for election. Fourteen of the Representative Council’s 19 members are elected directly by the schools involved. Five represent Class A and B schools from various regions of the state; four represent Class C and D schools from regions about the state, two are elected at-large from across the state, two are elected to represent junior high/middle schools from across the state, and one is elected to represent nonpublic schools statewide. Four positions on the Representative Council are appointed in order to provide better representation of females and minorities than the election process might create. The 19th member of the Representative Council is the Superintendent of Public Instruction or his/her designee.
How Many Schools Are Members of the MHSAA?
There are 753 total high schools and 703 junior high middle schools in the MHSAA, broken down as follows (as of April 2015) 753 Total High Schools 644 (86%) Total Public Schools 56 (7%) Charter (Public School Academies) 588 (78%) Traditional Schools 109 (14%) Total Nonpublic Schools 109 (14%) Religious 10 (1%) Non-Secular 703 Total Junior High/Middle Schools 632 (90%) Total Public Schools 30 (4% Charter (Public School Academies) 602 (86%) Traditional Schools 71 (10%) Total Nonpublic Schools 72 (10%) Religious 6 (.9%) Non-Secular
What are the exceptions to the 1 semester of ineligibility "Transfer Rule"?
Eight of the exceptions have to do with residency changes (full and complete residential changes), others include a school closing or a new school opening. Consult your local school athletic director regarding specific situations.
What is the age rule for participating in high school athletics?
To participate in MHSAA tournament-sponsored sports, a student must be under 19 years of age except that a student who turns 19 on or after Sept. 1 of a current school year is eligible for the balance of that school year.
How do I appeal an eligibility decision?
The MHSAA Constitution allows for all regulations to be waived. The age and maximum enrollment & competition regulations are only subject to a waiver in specific and limited, narrow situations originally based on both physical and mental disability (ADA) or significant medical situations that delayed a student's educational progress. Requests for a waiver must be in writing from the administration of a member school, setting forth all of the information necessary for a decision to be made. The Executive Committee of the MHSAA meets monthly to consider such requests for waivers.
Can a student participate with their team while ineligible?
While ineligible athletes may not participate in an interscholastic scrimmage or contest, each individual school determines its own policy regarding practices. MHSAA rules do not prohibit a student from practicing with a team while ineligible. However, MHSAA medical accident insurance only covers eligible athletes.
What are the MHSAA's academic eligibility requirements?
The MHSAA sets a minimum standard for academic eligibility which many schools adjust upward. The minimum is that a student must have passed at least 66% of a full-time student's course load (generally 4 or 5 or 6 classes / 5 of 7 classes) in the previous semester and be passing the same number in the current semester, whenever a school does regular academic eligibility checks (at least once in a 10-week period).
Can a student go to one school which has a sports program, but play sports for another school?
Except for cooperative programs, all students on MHSAA member teams must be enrolled in the school they play for. The students on your school team and those you play against are all taking and passing at least 66% of a full-time student's course load on the official records of the school they are playing for. Being enrolled in the school you play for is the first rule of school sports in most states in the nation.
What is a Cooperative Program?
A cooperative program is a formal agreement between two or more schools approved by the MHSAA Executive Committee to form a combined team between two or more schools whose combined enrollment does not exceed 1,000 students or in sports sponsored by fewer than 250 schools such as lacrosse, boys ice hockey or girls gymnastics, provided the combined enrollment does not exceed 3,500 students. Other types of cooperative agreements can also be formed depending on the sport, school, and special circumstances. Deadlines exist for high school varsity cooperative agreement applications.
Can a home school student transfer into their regular school and play sports?
The rules treat home school students the same as students in a traditional school. If a home school student is transferring into a traditional school, the student may meet one of the exceptions to the transfer rule, such as their home school is closing, or they are taking the last grade available in the home school. If the home school student has been home schooled for up to 270 consecutive calendar days before closing, the student may be eligible immediately provided the school to which the student transfers accepts the previous semester's credit. Since home school students generally have not participated for a school team, they are likely eligibile under the transfer rule in any sport played in a previous school year of season once they are enrolled in 66% of a full-time student's course load at that school (generally 4 of 5 or 6 classes / 5 of 7).
How are officials selected for MHSAA tournaments?
Officials are selected for MHSAA tournaments by the Officials Selection committee in each sport. Each selection committee is comprised of athletic administrators and coaches who assign officials to the tournament series. To be eligible for tournament invitations officials shall have attended a current rules meeting in the sport and meet the specific requirements that are published for each position or sport. Tournament opportunities are limited to officials that reside within the state of Michigan and exclude coaches of that sport.
How does a person become an official?
A person becomes an official by registering with the MHSAA on an annual basis. Once a person becomes a MHSAA registered official, he or she should contact schools or work with a local officials association to secure assignments. All registered officials are independent contractors.
What are some training resources available for MHSAA officials?
The best training resource for officials is the local Approved Association. These local groups have numerous meetings and training sessions designed for experienced, maturing and beginning officials. A complete list of Approved Associations, along with contact information, is listed on the Web at mhsaa.com. The MHSAA provides educational materials and support for Approved Associations, including the annual MHSAA Officials Summer meetings. One centerpiece of this program is the Train-the-Trainer program in which Approved Associations send officials to be trained as officiating trainers in their sport of choice. Trainers receive information in sport specific rules and mechanics, along with the basic teaching skills to pass information on to other officials during local Approved Association meetings. The MHSAA directly supports officials through the TWO-DAE program designed specifically to recruit new female officials to the avocation. In addition, the MHSAA also has built relationships with a variety of officiating camps within our state to encourage officials to seek additional training in a variety of sports. For more information on these opportunities, contact the MHSAA. In addition to Approved Associations, the MHSAA has also built relationships with officiating organizations outside the MHSAA. The National Federation (nfhs.org) provides education materials and resources for officials, including the just-released online courses. These courses in the Basic Principles of Officiating, Softball and Baseball are available through the National Federation and are helpful to officials at every experience level. The National Association of Sports Officials, known as NASO (referee.com), is the leading organization devoted exclusively to officials. It produces a number of publications, videos and interactive products to aid and assist with officials training. The highlight of NASO’s year is the annual NASO Sports Officiating Summit, to be held in a different locale each summer.
How are teams assigned to districts and regionals?
Tournament groupings for the entry round of MHSAA tournaments are created by MHSAA staff. Geography is the sole criteria used for tournament groupings for most sports at the District or Regional level, and factors such as strength of program are not considered in determining tournament groupings.
How are MHSAA tournament sites selected?
MHSAA tournament sites are assigned in most sports by a site selection committee. All member schools have the ability to notify the MHSAA that they would like to be a tournament host by sport. The site selection committee then meets to assign those tournament hosts. Factors such as size and quality of the facility, distance to other competing schools and rotation of host sites are all considered when making host site selections. Once tournament groupings and hosts have been identified, they are posted on the Web.