Michigan legislators applaud MHSAA rule change

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LANSING, Mich.—State lawmakers applauded today’s news that 94 percent of Michigan schools approved a change to the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s constitution that provides for a limited waiver to the state’s age eligibility standard.

As a result of that vote, the association’s age rule may now be waived under certain circumstances by the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) Executive Committee.

Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, was “relieved and grateful” to hear of the decision the MHSAA handed down.

Casperson, the author of Senate Resolution 145, which unanimously passed the Michigan Senate, called on the MHSAA to propose a rule change that would allow Eric Dompierre and other special needs students like him to compete in high school sport. Casperson said there is a larger lesson to be learned through Eric’s story.

“In bravely coming before the Michigan Legislature to make the case for athletic equity, Eric left the Legislature with an invaluable lesson by bringing lawmakers together and immediately bridging the philosophical and political differences that all too often keep us from working together toward the common good,” Casperson said.

“It’s a lesson legislators would do well to remember each and every day we serve. If we are mindful of the lesson left by Eric’s selfless spirit and determination, we will undoubtedly solve many of the problems we face today. For that, we all owe Eric Dompierre our appreciation.”

After hearing the results of the vote, Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, R-Monroe, remarked, “I’m glad the rules were amended to allow so many deserving kids, including Eric Dompierre, to play high school sports without compromising the integrity of the MHSAA rules.”

On May 2, the Dompierres, representing the organization Let ‘Em Play, spoke on behalf of more than 90,000 people who had signed a petition demanding that the 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 previous policy stated that students who turn 19 prior to Sept. 1 of a school year are not eligible for interscholastic athletics under any circumstances.

The news of the ruling spread quickly to the House of Representatives.

“Eric Dompierre has been setting a good example for his classmates throughout his high school career, and this effort to have the waiver rules changed adds to his list of accomplishments to be proud of,” said Speaker of the House Rep. Jase Bolger, R-Marshall. “I applaud the MHSAA, its member schools and the Dompierre family for finding a way to address this situation for Eric and other talented student athletes who may follow in his footsteps.”