Eric and Dean Dompierre testify on resolution to waive MHSAA age requirement

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LANSING, Mich.—Today, father and son, Dean and Eric Dompierre of Ishpeming, shed further light on an issue that has recently gained national attention.

The Dompierres, representing Let ‘Em Play, spoke on behalf of more than 90,000 people who have signed a petition demanding that the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) adopt an equitable policy like the one 23 other states have embraced, which balances the special needs of disabled students with the need to protect the integrity of high school sports.

The MHSAA’s age policy currently states that students who turn 19 prior to Sept. 1 of a school year are not eligible for interscholastic athletics.

Eric Dompierre’s situation highlights the need for the rule change, which is why he has received such tremendous support. Eric, who has a love for football and basketball, is a junior at Ishpeming High School and has Down syndrome, which led to his being held back in junior kindergarten and first grade.

Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, introduced Senate Resolution 145 last week, calling on the MHSAA to adopt a policy that allows an age-eligibility waiver in certain, limited cases.

“I am very pleased that both Eric and his father Dean were able to testify on the resolution,” said Casperson. “The testimony Dean offered was exceptional, and only outdone by that of his son.  Father and son made a compelling, logical and emotional case as to why the MHSAA is out of step with its rigid age-eligibility policy and why it must act immediately to change it so that students like Eric are permitted to participate in athletics in their senior year.

In listening to Eric and his father testify, it was apparent how important football and basketball are not only to him, but to his Hematite teammates, and why they have been such a key component of his scholastic success. For the MHSAA leadership to deny Eric and those like him their senior year of sports is no longer acceptable, and if the MHSAA won’t lead the State in making a fair and responsible change, the Legislature may have to.”

SR 145 unanimously passed out of the Senate Education Committee. The measure now advances to the full Senate for further consideration.

If you have any questions, please contact Casperson’s office at (517) 373-7840 or (866) 305-2038.