UPDATE 10/10/2023: Today the Missouri Court of Appeals Southern District denied Springfield Public Schools’s petition seeking to have Kylan Mabins ruled ineligible.
The Glendale quarterback’s eligibility has been the source of much litigation this fall after he transferred from Kickapoo.
The Missouri State High School Activities Association initially ruled Mabins ineligible, so his family sued and a Greene County judge ruled in their favor, allowing Mabins to suit up for games.
SPS appealed the judge’s decision, but today’s ruling means Mabins can continue playing.
Following the decision, SPS issued the following statement:
This is an unfortunate situation that holds far-reaching implications beyond one student athlete. In fact, the ability to enforce the fair governance of high school athletics and activities in Missouri is at stake. While we are disappointed by today’s denial of the writ of prohibition, it does not change the recent findings of the investigation that found the plaintiff’s claims to be unsubstatiated. The plaintiff’s false claims have now been refuted on multiple fronts – by SPS, by the Missouri State High School Activities Association and by the independent investigator. SPS will not remain silent while the integrity and professional reputations of our staff are unfairly targeted. Ultimately, the case remains pending in the Greene County Circuit Court and the final outcome is not yet clear.Stephen D. Hall, spokesperson for SPS
Hall also told OzarksFirst that MSHSAA also filed a separate writ of prohibition with the Missouri Court of Appeals Southern District today.
On Oct. 13, Glendale travels to Kickapoo to take on Mabins’s old team.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The Springfield Public School District is appealing a decision from Greene County Judge Derek Ankrom, which has led to an injunction that allows Glendale quarterback Kylan Mabins play football.
Judge Ankrom made the decision in Mabins’ favor on Sept. 22.
“The reason we strongly disagree with the judge’s opinion in this case, and we believe that the judgment needs to be challenged because of the implications if left unchallenged and if it were to stand,” said Stephen Hall, chief communications officer of SPS. “It’s important to note that this case is about so much more than one student. It is about the ability of student athletics and activities to be fairly governed across the entire state of Missouri. It’s important to remember we are not talking about SPS rules when we’re talking about student-athletes.”
SPS and MSHSAA argued in Judge Ankrom’s courtroom that Mabins’ move was strictly related to football.
“It is important to note from the record that this family considered a transfer to Glendale High School in 2020 as a result of a relationship that they had with the Mauk family, who were coaches of the Glendale football team at that time,” Hall said. “So there was a link that was made between this family and the Mauk family more than three years ago and more than three years ago, our staff provided wise counsel to the family that they should not transfer to Glendale, that in doing so it could be argued that it would be undue influence and could lead to the ineligibility of the student-athlete that counsel was provided three years ago.”
Hall added that if Mabins transferred to any of the other high schools in the district, there wouldn’t be any ‘undue influence’, but his previous relationship with the Mauk family would bring the influence into question.
Mabins’ attorney Jay Kirksey argued in September that football wasn’t on the young man’s mind, but the transfer was an escape from an alleged culture of toxicity and racial discrimination within the halls of Kickapoo High School.
“We want the same thing we wanted from day one, and that is for there to be truth under oath by witnesses and for SPS to do what its policy says when there’s a report of discrimination and retaliation,” Kirksey said. “SPS policy says there’s to occur an immediate investigation so that there’s no harm to the person in this. In this instance, the student made that report. The students and the parents made reports, and they did so expecting the school system to comply with some policy because the school system failed to comply with some policy. They’ve all been hurt. They’ve all been harmed. That’s not the way it’s supposed to be here in the Ozarks. That’s not the way it’s supposed to be within the Springfield school system.”
Hall and SPS denies any wrongdoing.
“Those accusations are unfortunate, and they are untrue. It’s important that the district be clear that we have an amazing team of educators who have done exactly what they should have done throughout this process,” Hall said. “It is unacceptable for their good reputations to be attacked in the way that it has been attacked throughout this process. It’s very important that I strongly defend the reputation and the integrity of our educators because they have conducted themselves exactly as they should appropriately throughout this entire process. The district hired an independent investigator based in Saint Louis who has no ties or connection to this case. They found that there was absolutely no substantiation to any of these allegations.”
The method SPS is appealing is called a writ of prohibition, specifically targeting Judge Ankrom’s ruling.
According to the Missouri Supreme Court, it’s known as an extreme remedy in cases.
Kirksey calls the motion disturbing and sad.
“What’s interesting is the Springfield school system, their employees, Nate Thomas and Scott Phillips and Josh Scott, they testified and provided the evidence upon which the judge made the finding that SPS had engaged in fraud and malice and collusion. They had harmed my client,” Kirksey said. “What’s interesting is, is Springfield is basically ripping the testimony of its own employees and it makes no sense. It is totally disingenuous and inappropriate.”
Both parties are worried about the precedent of a challenge, or the idea of not challenging would set.
“It’s too late about Kylan. He’s already been harmed, as have his parents. What happens the next time to the next student, if you’re going to double down on a failure to comply with your own policy because of fraud and malice? What’s going to happen when the next student at SPS makes a report about bullying or misconduct or discrimination or harassment? That’s very, very concerning,” Kirksey said.
“This is about the ability for entire teams, and programs within a school to be able to compete. I want to make it very clear that had the team at Glendale conducted themselves and not followed MSHSAA’s guidelines, their entire student athletic program could have been subject to sanction,” Hall said. “When you think about the decision of one student-athlete or one family to transfer due to undue influence, there are implications for an entire team or school of students. It’s about so much more than any one person.”
As it currently stands, Mabins is slated to suit up for Glendale this Friday as they head to Kickapoo in Mabins’ first return since his transfer.