THSCA notes: UIL cost-cutting survey results

FORT WORTH, Texas – For the first time since the mid-1980s, the UIL surveyed Texas high schools this offseason on preferred ways to cut costs in athletics, and the answers surprised UIL administrators.

The majority of the schools that responded, in every individual sport, gave no inclination toward playing fewer games in each sport’s season, UIL deputy director director Jamey Harrison said Monday during the THSCA convention at the Fort Worth Convention Center. The slight majority was in favor of cutting the amount of tournaments a team could participate in a season.

A mid-sized school district could be sending two seventh-grade boys and girls basketball teams, a boys and girls ninth-grade team, boys and girls JV teams and boys and girls varsity teams all to tournaments on the same weekend, putting strain on the time the students have in class that week and money spent on traveling and food for the players, UIL executive director Charles Breithaupt said.

“I think our school superintendents are right saying that’s where we need a little relief, and it keeps kids in school a little be more, which is our educational mission,” Breithaupt said.

Currently, the UIL only sets a maximum number of games teams can play in a season, leaving individual schools in charge of cutting games for cost or any other reason. The only change that could be made is to reduce the maximum amount of games each team is allowed to play to even the playing field with schools that would like to cut costs.

Other notes from Monday's press conference:

* The UIL’s new concussion protocol will go into effect this athletic year for all sports. All athletes who show any sign of a head injury must be cleared by a medical professional before they can start a recovery process that will eventually get them back on the field. The recovery process begins with light conditioning, moving to sport-specific conditioning then full practice before they are allowed to be active in a game.

* A helmet reconditioning policy will go into effect in 2012, which mandates that schools report the age of the helmets still in use.

* All enrollment information used for reclassification and realignment will now be submitted to the UIL electronically. This will enable the UIL to release more of the figures they gather to the public, providing more transparency into how schools are aligned. Also, any school can choose to opt up into a larger classification for any reason. Previously, this was only an option for schools that were hindered by travel.