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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 14, 1998
MHSAA Statement On Gender Equity
Contact: John Johnson 517.332.5046
By Communications Director John Johnson
KALAMAZOO, Mich. - Sept. 14 - Michigan High
School Athletic Association Communications Director John R. Johnson
made the following statement today on behalf of the Association
regarding its response to a legal action brought here in United
States District Court that attempts to empower the organization
to force the public, private and parochial schools in its statewide
membership to change the sports they sponsor and the time of
the year when they conduct sports seasons.
"This case is about removing schools' authority to make
decisions. The plaintiffs ask that the court order the MHSAA
to develop a plan to tell schools what to do, and to pay for
that plan's implementation. Legally, the MHSAA simply doesn't
have such authority. We do not seek such authority. The lawsuit
seeks to have the MHSAA do what state law says it cannot.
"The sports seasons in Michigan are scheduled when they
are because a large majority of schools chose those times of
year and did so in advance of MHSAA involvement with the sport.
Because 82 percent of MHSAA member schools favor the current
alignment of sports seasons, the Association can easily defend
the sports season schedule.
"More importantly, the MHSAA will aggressively defend schools'
authority to determine for themselves when sports seasons will
"The MHSAA can't make schools switch seasons. I believe
that if we put our Girls Soccer Tournament in the fall when more
than 300 schools sponsor girls soccer in the spring, schools
would create a new association to put the post-season tournament
where they want it.
"We can't make any school district conduct water polo or
ice hockey for girls, and it would be inappropriate for the MHSAA
to sponsor post-season tournaments in those sports for the five
and six schools, respectively, that currently sponsor those sports.
"We will continue to play best of three game matches in
volleyball in our post-season tournament if that's what schools
want; regardless of what the colleges do; just as we will continue
to use high school playing rules in MHSAA tournaments for football,
basketball and other sports, regardless of the rules codes for
"We will continue to play post-season tournament contests
in the best available facilities appropriate in size for anticipated
crowds, utilizing the advice and consent of site selection committees
made up of school personnel from around the state. A difference
of opinion about the best venue for an event does not amount
to any discrimination at all, much less the intentional discrimination
the plaintiffs allege.
"The MHSAA has a track record of serving girls interscholastic
athletics even more aggressively than boys.
"The MHSAA -- Was the first state high school association
in the United States to establish an equity committee as a standing
state association committee; was the first state high school
association in the United States to sponsor an annual conference
for women in sports leadership and the only state to permanently
endow such a conference; was the first state high school association
to award annually a Women In Sports Leadership Award; sponsors
12 tournaments for girls and 12 for boys; allows girls to play
on any team in MHSAA tournaments, but does not allow boys to
play on girls teams in those tournaments; televises as many girls
tournaments as boys, even without sufficient sponsor support;
produces the same quality souvenir programs for girls final tournaments,
even without comparable advertiser support; and reimburses tournament
hosts and managers for girls tournaments at the same level as
boys, even without the same spectator support.
"The MHSAA is an advocate for girls' athletics and for schools'
control of their own programs."