Update: Student Eligibility

In an April blog, I discussed how Eric Dompierre, a 19-year old student with Down Syndrome, might not be eligible to play football and basketball during his senior year of high school because of the age limit for sports eligibility in Michigan.  Under the previous language, students in Michigan who turn 19 before September 1st were prohibited from playing sports for the full academic year. 

Michigan students meeting the following requirements will now be able to formally file a waiver request with the Michigan High School Athletic Association (“MHSAA”):

  • A  student’s school progress was delayed prior to 9th grade because of a disability noted in the ADA, and
  • At the time of the waiver request, a student must have a disability documented which impacts his physical and either intellectual or emotional capabilities and does not create a health and safety risk and does not create a competitive advantage for the team.

Eric’s father plans to formally file a waiver request with the MHSAA.

Let’s hope that families and athletic governing board across the country look at the regulations in their states to ensure that students with disabilities have the opportunity for inclusion in school sports.  Here in Pennsylvania, we hope our families encourage the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association, Inc. (“PIAA”) to consider similar changes to their eligibility rules.

Check out this blog post on how poorly professional golfer Casey Martin was treated by the PGA 15 years ago regarding his disability.

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