By LIBBY CLUETT
AUSTIN – Some bills facing the Texas Legislature, including Dan Patrick’s Senate Bill 929, would amend current law to allow home-schooled students access to University Interscholastic League sponsored activities. This isn’t the only proposed legislation aimed at the UIL.
The league was created in 1913 to allow for students to participate in UIL-sponsored activities, including sports, arts and academics, largely for public schools, although some private schools have been admitted.
The UIL opened its doors beyond public schools by allowing two private schools to compete a decade ago, with seemingly no problems. At the time, public school officials and a representative of the Texas High School Coaches Association argued that private schools would have an unfair advantage, since they are able to “recruit” students beyond a geographic boundary.
Mineral Wells ISD Athletic Director Chuck Lawrence said he does not like the idea of letting private schools compete in any UIL athletics or activities.
“I am totally against it,” Lawrence said.
“Private schools do not play by the same rules as the public schools, and it is impossible to have a level playing field if they can recruit and hand pick their students,” he added. “In no way could you ever level the playing field by allowing private schools to compete with UIL schools.”
Currently students are eligible to compete in UIL sports and academics if they:
• Haven’t graduated from high school.
• Are full-time day students.
• Have attended classes since the sixth day of class of the present school year, or have been enrolled and in regular attendance for 15 or more calendar days before the contest.
• Are eligible under No-pass, No play.
• Have the required number of credits for eligibility.
• Are enrolled in a four-year program of high school courses.
• Initially enrolled in the ninth grade not more than four years ago, or in the 10th grade not more than three years ago (students may apply for waivers).
• Did not change schools for the purpose of participating in a UIL academic event.
• Are not in violation of the awards rule.