By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Jeremy Sampson, an award-winning sportscaster who founded and currently serves as president of the Lansing United semi-professional men’s soccer club, will join the Michigan High School Athletic Association staff later this month in the newly-created position of Ticketing, Promotions & Marketing Coordinator.
Sampson earned awards from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters and The Associated Press while serving as the weekend sports anchor from 2005-2013 for WILX in Lansing, where he also coordinated the station’s weekly high school highlights show. He previously worked as the sports broadcasting producer for Michigan State University from 2000-02 and most recently has served as a communications specialist for the Michigan Department of Treasury, coordinating internal communications and assisting with media relations.
He has gained valuable ticketing and event promotions experience from his role with Lansing United. Sampson created the franchise in 2013 and serves as its president and chief executive officer. In those roles, Sampson is in charge of all game day operations, hiring of the head coach and general manager, and developing and executing strategies for ticket sales and team promotion. Lansing United is a member of the National Premier Soccer League, which has more than 80 teams nationwide. The United has drawn on average just more than 1,000 fans per game during its three-season history, ranking third in the NPSL’s seven-team Great Lakes Conference West behind only franchises from much larger markets in Detroit and Grand Rapids.
In his role with the MHSAA, Sampson will take the lead in all ticketing operations and efforts to promote attendance at MHSAA events. The majority of revenue collected by the association for use in its operating budget is collected from ticket sales at postseason events it sponsors.
“The MHSAA is best-known for its tournaments, and this is the first time we have had someone on staff focused primarily on promotion of our events,” MHSAA Executive Director John E. “Jack” Roberts said. “Jeremy Sampson brings experience and ideas, and additionally he adds depth to our staff in a number of other important communications functions.”
Sampson, a native of Vermontville and graduate of Bath High School, also is a 1996 graduate of Michigan State University and earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He will begin his duties at the MHSAA on July 25.
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.