Michigan High School Athletic Association

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Michigan High School Athletic Association
MHSAA Web Logo.png
Map of USA highlighting Michigan.png
Abbreviation MHSAA
Legal status Association
Purpose Athletic/Educational
Headquarters 1661 Ramblewood Dr.
East Lansing, MI 48823
Region served Michigan
Membership 1,500+ junior and senior high schools
Official language English
Executive Director John E. Roberts
Affiliations National Federation of State High School Associations
Staff 22
Website MHSAA.com
Remarks (517) 332-5046

The Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) is a service organization for high school sports in Michigan and is headquartered in East Lansing. It is a member of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).

Unlike many other NFHS member organizations,

  • The MHSAA does not charge membership fees for schools; it derives its income from ticket sales at tournament level games and a handful of corporate sponsorships.
  • It is independent of and not officially recognized by any governmental body, local or state-wide.
  • Membership is voluntary; no Michigan high school is compelled by law to be a MHSAA member.

As of August 13, 2013, the MHSAA has 756 member high schools, comprising virtually all high school athletics in Michigan, public and private. Only a small number of private schools and a few nontraditional public schools in Michigan forgo MHSAA membership. MHSAA member schools may compete against non-member school in interscholastic athletic competition.

The MHSAA supports 29 sports.

BOYS: Baseball, Basketball, Bowling, Cross Country, Football, Golf, Ice Hockey, Lacrosse, Alpine Skiing, Soccer, Swimming & Diving, Tennis, Track & Field, Wrestling, Rugby GIRLS: Basketball, Bowling, Competitive Cheer, Cross Country, Golf, Gymnastics, Lacrosse, Alpine Skiing, Soccer, Softball, Swimming & Diving, Tennis, Track & Field, Volleyball

Technically, all "boys" teams are officially "boys & girls" teams, while "girls" teams are "girls only," although having girls actually play on "boys & girls" teams is approximately as uncommon as in the many other States using a similar arrangement. (An example is Norway, Michigan's tennis team).[1]

Traditional classifications used are labeled A, B, C and D from largest to smallest. Each grouping consists of 25% (or as close as is mathematically practicable) of all member schools sorted by student population, including a variety of correction factors. Since the 1990s, the usage of these traditional classifications has been reduced to only basketball, volleyball, and in determining football playoff qualifiers (but not in the actual football tournament). Total 4-year coed enrollment cutoffs for the 2013–14 school year are as follows:[2]

  • Class A: 893 and above
  • Class B: 429-892
  • Class C: 207-428
  • Class D: 206 and below

The traditional classifications have the same number of schools (or as close as mathematically possible) in each of them, but not necessarily the same number of teams in a given sport's tournament; smaller schools are unable to support as many sport teams, although they may form cooperative programs classified by the combined enrollments of the schools involved. In order to prevent distorted tournament structures, for most sports the MHSAA uses "nearly equal divisions," where only those schools sponsoring a team in the given sport are broken into as many equally sized groupings (or as close to equal as is mathematically possible) as the Association feels is appropriate given the number of schools sponsoring the sport. The MHSAA's tournament structures are similar to those used in many other States; schools are assigned to Regions and, in those sports where it is appropriate, Districts. Assignments are made on a sport-to-sport and year-to-year basis, meaning that as no two sports have identical classification methods and sponsorship levels, a given school will usually have at least minor variations in its overall tournament path from sport to sport.

Unlike in some states, regional and district placement has no bearing on regular season scheduling; schools form conferences on their own or compete as independents, although conferences generally consist of similarly sized schools which are geographically proximate to each other. Except in football, all schools in good standing fielding teams in a particular sport are allowed to enter that sport's postseason tournament which crowns a champion. Some sport championship tournaments are divided into separate Upper Peninsula and Lower Peninsula tournaments; an example of this is tennis.[2] Schools pay no entry fees to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which are paid for out of ticket sales, sponsorships and broadcast rights fees.

For football, postseason inclusion is determined by wins and a computer point value, calculated for each team based upon its record and strength of schedule, with the top 256 teams (including all teams with six victories if playing a nine-game schedule) qualifying. These 256 teams are then ordered by enrollment and divided into 8 divisions of 32 teams each. This is nearly unique amongst high school football competition in the U.S. in that many teams do not know which classification they will compete for a state title in until after the regular season has ended; the Illinois High School Association, North Carolina High School Athletic Association, and Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association also have a similar format.

Participation in Michigan is generally limited to eligible 9th through 12th graders; students are given eight consecutive semesters of eligibility beginning with the 9th grade. Schools with a four-year high school enrollment of 99 or less may draw upon the 8th grade for varsity competition in all sports except football, ice hockey and wrestling, while schools with a four-year high school enrollment of 49 or less may also draw upon the 7th grade.

The MHSAA is considered a leader among state high school offices and is known for pro-actively implementing solutions to problems faced by all state offices and for committing substantial resources to technological improvements. Through a special arrangement with ArbiterSports, MHSAA will be the first state office to provide its member schools with a single technology platform.[3][4]


Michigan maintained its standing nationally in high school sports participation statistics for the 2012–13 school year, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations. The total for the 2012–13 year was 293,810, with 123,130 girls and 170,680 boys taking part. All three numbers are slightly lower than a year ago. [3]

Student Leadership[edit]

MHSAA Scholar-Athlete Award
Each year, the MHSAA recognizes 32 student-athletes throughout the state of Michigan with its Scholar-Athlete Award. Recipients receive a $1,000 scholarship. The award is sponsored by Farm Bureau Insurance.

Students work to untie a "human knot" at a Captains Clinic

MHSAA Captains Clinic Series
In conjunction with Michigan State University's Institute for the Study of Youth Sports, the MHSAA provides programming to member schools via their leagues and/or conferences in the form of one-day trainings. Curriculum is geared toward developing leadership skills for current and future team captains.

MHSAA Student Advisory Council
In 2005, the MHSAA created a 16-member student panel to act as the voice of Michigan's student athlete population, serve as a sounding board for the MHSAA's Representative Council, assist in planning Sportsmanship Summits and Captains Clinics, and to help with medal and trophy ceremonies at MHSAA championship events. The council is composed of eight boys and eight girls, all of either junior of senior high school status.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ The results of the 2008 U.P. Division 2 Finals; note the one girl who is on 3 doubles and the two girls who are at 4 doubles.
  2. ^ MHSAA's website lists tennis with "LP" and "UP", signifying "Lower Peninsula" and "Upper Peninsula".
  3. ^ [1]