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MHSA denies renewal of Flint Creek Co-Op

GRANITE COUNTY – It was learned Monday afternoon that Montana High School Association Executive Director Brian Michelotti denied the renewal application for the Flint Creek Titan Football Co-Op. The communication was made in a letter emailed to Philipsburg Schools Superintendent Tom Gates and Drummond Schools Superintendent Dean Phillips.

In his denial letter email Monday, Michelotti stated he based his decision on the next few years of projected participation in the co-op.

“I denied the request because of the estimated number of students that would be participating on the co‐op team over the next several years. The numbers would be 26 and 29, respectively. The numbers are over the average size of an Eight‐Player football team’s roster, which averages 21 participants.”

When asked for comment about the renewal denial, Phillips said, “He denied it, so we’ll (the Flint Creek Co-Op Board) have to appeal it at the Executive Board Meeting in Missoula January 14, 2023.

“The hearing on the 14th is a public hearing, so … I do hope that the MHSA is prepared to have a large meeting room because there could quite possibly be a large number of community members from Drummond and Philipsburg filling that meeting room.”

Gates viewed the potential damage that the co-op’s dissolution might mean to the school.

“I'm at a loss for words. It's just the wrong decision plain and simple. This decision creates the exact opposite of what the MHSA vision and mission of why co-ops are needed in the first place,” said Gates in a text message to the Courier Monday night. “Pburg will struggle to offer a six man team for at least the next three years so I can't see why we wouldn't stay co-oped for at least another three years.

“Basically, we believe it's the wrong decision at this time.”

The statement that Gates refers to is one that is found on the co-op application/renewal form itself, which reads:

The Executive Director will attempt to increase the number of students that are participating in activities by making activities available for students that would not be available in their school if joint sponsorship did not occur.

The MHSA Executive Board review of Flint’s Creek’s appeal will take place at the Holiday Inn in Missoula. A meeting time and room will be set at a later date.

While Michelotti’s decision appears to be based on the next few years, it does not appear to take into account the years farther out.

The projected student body numbers for 22-23 were not available to the Flint Creek Courier at the writing of this article. However, projections for the 23-24 and 24-25 years were made available by Phillips when the application was originally denied in November.

The 23-24 numbers indicate that the student body total between the two schools would be 115, much the same as it was in 2020, with a roster size of 19. In 24-25 the combined student body is estimated to be 106. If the same 16.52% participation rate is applied, the roster would drop to 17 players.

According to the MHSA website as of 5:48 p.m. December 19, 2022, the following are the members of the MHSA Executive Board that will hear the appeal are:

  • Jim Hawbaker, (President, Class A Rep) Asst. Principal @ Billings Central

  • Doug Reisig, (Vice President, State Superintendent Rep)

  • Krystal Zentner, (Montana School Boards Rep)

  • Jimmy Patelis, (Governor’s Office Rep)

  • Steve Thennis, (Class AA Rep) Principal @ Helena High School

  • John Fitzgerald, (Class B Rep) Superintendent at Red Lodge High School

  • Luke Kloker, (Class C Rep) Superintendent Fairview Public Schools


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