DETROIT — A judge on Thursday rejected a plea from a Michigan State basketball recruit who’s been barred from playing his senior season after transferring to a new high school.

Thomas Kithier said his rights have been violated by the Michigan High School Athletic Association. But U.S. District Judge Marianne Battani said there’s no constitutional right to play high school sports or participate in any school-related activity.

That may be a “shock to some,” the judge said.

The MHSAA said Kithier is ineligible because his transfer to defending Class A champion Clarkston from Dakota was motivated by sports and a desire to play with another Michigan State recruit, Foster Loyer, who was his teammate on a summer team.

Kithier and his parents insist that he left Dakota because he wanted a better education. They turned to federal court after losing an appeal.

Battani said the law isn’t on Kithier’s side, even if he misses an “opportunity of a lifetime” by not playing a final year of high school basketball. The 18-year-old’s attorney, Ven Johnson, described it as a “death penalty.”

Kithier declined to comment on Battani’s decision. Outside court, another attorney, Steve Fishman, said the MHSAA “screwed over a kid” who didn’t do anything wrong.

During more than an hour of arguments, an attorney for the MHSAA said legal precedent weighed heavily in favor of the organization.

“The MHSAA’s obligation is to enforce the rules as written. … Courts don’t opine on the wisdom of rules written by voluntary associations,” attorney Scott Eldridge said.


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