The Michigan High School Athletic Association has approved an age waiver system, which could let Eric Dompierre of Ishpeming play basketball.
On May 31 members of the MHSAA approved an amendment to the organization's constitution. This new amendment will allow age waivers for students that meet certain circumstances.
One student impacted by this decision is Ishpeming's Eric Dompierre, who wouldn't have been allowed to play basketball his senior year because he is 19. Eric has Down Syndrome, and educational needs in his best interest meant he would end his high school career older than most kids.
In the vote sent out to 1,535 MHSAA member schools, 701 schools cast legal ballots and 94 percent approved the amendment.
Here is a summary of the new rule:- Prior to the waiver request by the member school, the studentâ??s educational progress must have been delayed prior to initial enrollment in the ninth grade solely because of a medically documented disability under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act or Michiganâ??s Persons With Disabilities Civil Rights Act. (References to ADA and PDCRA are solely meant to gauge disabilities, and not to acquiesce that the MHSAA is covered by those acts.)- At the time of the waiver request, the student must have a defined disability documented to diminish both physical and either intellectual or emotional capabilities, does not create a health or safety risk to participants, and does not create a competitive advantage for the team. The burden of proof rests with the school seeking the wavier.- For those most disabled students to which waiver is granted by the Executive Committee, the maximum age rule would be extended one year. The four-year maximum enrollment limit would still apply.- The rule also has a waiver provision at the junior high/middle school level for seventh and eighth grade athletics.
â??The affirmative results reflect two things: first, that the proposal was well-conceived; and second, that Council members themselves turned many of their constituentsâ?? votes from No to Yes,â?? said John E. â??Jackâ?? Roberts, Executive Director of the MHSAA. â??This proposal would not have passed without the Councilâ??s proactive efforts."
The MHSAA says the challenge now is to demonstrate to the negative voters and to the many schools that didn't vote, that this decision preserves the integrity of the program as effectively as the previous rule.