Senate supports waiver for raising HS sports age limit
LANSING, Mich. (WZZM) - The Michigan State Senate Thursday approved a resolution Thursday that urges the Michigan High School Athletic Association to adop an age eligibility waiver for students with disabilities.
It stems from the case of an Upper Peninsula boy with Down syndrome who would be prevented from playing football and basketball next school year without a rule change. Current rules forbid any student who turns 19 prior to September 1 from participating in high school sports that year.
Eric Dompierre is already 19. His parents started him in school late to allow him to develop more. He is 130 pounds and is 5' 1".
Wednesday, Dompierre and his father Dean testified before the Senate's Education committee. Senate Resolution No. 145 reads, in part: "The current MHSAA policy, while well-intentioned, is no longer meeting its intended purpose, but rather is punishing students with disabilities who may reach high school at an older age. This rule unnecessarily denies them the opportunity to enjoy the camaraderie and competition of high school sports with their friends and teammates. It denies them a memory that they will cherish for a lifetime. In denying this honor, it deprives them of an opportunity to build self-esteem, self-confidence, and identity--lessons that cannot be learned elsewhere."
Seperately, Michigan's top education official planned to meet Thursday evening with MHSAA executive director John Roberts. Superintendent Michael Flanagan planned to encourage Roberts to support the waiver, according to Department of Education spokesman Martin Ackerly. Ackerly said the meeting was planned previous to the recent discussion of this issue.
The MHSAA is a private association and is not bound by the senate resolution or action by the Department of Education.
The MHSAA's governing body, the Representative Council, will meet Sunday and Monday and is expected to take up the issue again for the third time in two years. The age waiver in special circumstances concept has been rejected twice during that time.