By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Just as the Michigan High School Athletic Association hopes students will pursue the many benefits of taking part in educational athletics, MI Student Aid – a division of the Michigan Department of Treasury – encourages students to pursue postsecondary educational opportunities by providing financial assistance toward attaining that goal.
Sharing in the desire to make Michigan students aware of all possibilities available, MI Student Aid has signed on to work with the MHSAA to present the opportunities provided by both to a statewide audience via the MHSAA’s radio, video, social media and online initiatives.
MI Student Aid – a part of the Student Financial Services Bureau located within the Department of Treasury – encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information, including various student financial assistance programs to help make college more affordable for Michigan students. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 savings programs (MET/MESP) and eight additional aid programs within its Student Scholarships and Grants division.
Among MHSAA broadcast ventures that will be presented by MI Student Aid during the 2016-17 school year are the five-minute “This Week in High School Sports” program that airs on more than 80 radio stations statewide, and the weekly video highlights from Michigan programming produced for the NFHS Network, dispersed to statewide media and published online on the MHSAA Website.
“We value the life lessons learned on the athletic field, and MI Student Aid promotes continuing education for our student-athletes by providing financial assistance in pursuing those opportunities,” said John E. “Jack” Roberts, Executive Director of the MHSAA. “We are always seeking to make students and their families aware of all that can be gleaned from educational athletics, and we’re glad to provide an avenue for MI Student Aid to promote the options available to help in financing the continuation of their studies.”
In addition to radio and video contributions, MI Student Aid will have an on-site presence at MHSAA championship events throughout this school year and serve as the presenting sponsor of weekly football and boys and girls basketball statewide reports on Second Half.
MI Student Aid also will have an opportunity to connect with students and their families through a presence on the MHSAA’s social media platforms.
“We are extremely excited to be partnered with Michigan High School Athletic Association,” said Anne Wohlfert, Director of the Student Financial Services Bureau. “Students and families oftentimes encounter barriers when paying for college, and MHSAA provides a platform that allows our resources and services to be transparent, directly to the audience we are trying to reach. Our mission and values closely align with that of MHSAA, which made this partnership an easy decision. We are looking forward to a long-lasting, successful partnership with them.”
The Representative Council of the Michigan High School Athletic Association began examining several topics during its Fall Meeting, Dec. 1 in East Lansing – including start and end dates of the winter calendar, possible new transfer rule exceptions and emerging sports – that will shape its work during the winter and spring meetings of this 2023-24 school year.
Generally, the Council takes only a few actions during its Fall Meeting, with topics often introduced for additional consideration and action during its meetings in March and May. The Council did take three actions this time as part of larger conversations expected to continue over the next six months.
The Council joined staff discussion on the start and end dates of winter seasons and the possibility of moving up both, which was among topics surveyed as part of the Update Meeting poll completed by administrators during the MHSAA’s annual presentations across the state this fall. Staff will prepare a recommendation for Council to review at a future meeting regarding the 2025-26 school year and beyond.
MHSAA staff also provided a variety of transfer rule issues encountered over the last year, and Council discussed the possibility of adding transfer rule exceptions related to military transfer families, fulltime school employee transfers and students returning from a sports academy or prep school and seeking immediate eligibility. The Council did adopt a change for multi-high school districts (with at least three high schools) that include both boundary and non-boundary schools that more clearly defined where students at those schools have immediate eligibility.
The Council also discussed possible new and emerging sports, including proposals for MHSAA sponsorship received by the water polo and field hockey governing bodies and an anticipated proposal to add boys volleyball to the MHSAA Tournament lineup.
Several more conversations regarded MHSAA postseasons:
- The Council reviewed the work of the Football Task Force and considered a staff recommendation to have the Football Committee in January discuss possibly capping enrollment of Division 8 11-player schools at 250 students to incentivize schools within that group to play 11-player instead of switching to 8-player.
- MHSAA staff have identified four areas requiring financial increases – MHSAA Tournament officials fees, host schools compensations, manager honorariums and team reimbursements for Finals participants – and the Council discussed the importance of including these when the MHSAA Audit & Finance Committee meets in February to begin the 2024-25 budgetary process.
- The Council also discussed recommendations from the MHSAA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee addressing possible requirements of emergency action plans and AEDs at MHSAA Tournament sites.
The Fall Meeting saw the appointment of Wyoming Godfrey-Lee Schools superintendent Arnetta Thompson and Freeland Middle School principal Jennifer Thunberg to two-year terms to the 19-person Council, the first terms for both. The Council also reelected Scott Grimes, superintendent for Grand Haven Area Public Schools, as its president; Brighton High School athletic director John Thompson as its vice president, and Vic Michaels, director of physical education and athletics for the Archdiocese of Detroit, as secretary-treasurer.
The Representative Council is the legislative body of the MHSAA. All but five members are elected by member schools. Four members are appointed by the Council to facilitate representation of females and minorities, and the 19th position is occupied by the Superintendent of Public Instruction or designee.
The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,500 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which attract more than 1.4 million spectators each year.