University Interscholastic League Executive Director Charles Breithaupt will take a bigger role in any future COVID-19 pandemic issues that affect high school sports in the near future.
By majority vote Friday, the UIL Legislative Council chose temporarily to expand the authority of Breithaup during the current state of the pandemic.
The expansion would allow Breithaup to help the state “pivot” during these times and to make adjustments to UIL rules as needed in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, according to UIL Deputy Director Jamey Harrison.
The resolution is limited in time, making adjustments specially needed to the coronavirus only and the UIL staff will communicate with the council when utilizing the authority granted. That can be applied to scheduling and start dates for specific sports.
The UIL has been under the gun in dealing with the health and well-being of students since deciding to close the boys state basketball tournaments on March 12 and then last month shutting down the spring sports season.
Quoting Dr. Martin Luther King, Breithaup laid down the current state of affairs for the council as the UIL’s staff prepares for the 2020-21 season.
“Those were tough decisions and I know each of you face your own when having to decide on whether to cancel school or not before the governor made his decision,” Breithaup said. “These are unique times. It’s not how good you are when things are good, but how good you are when things are tough. We are in tough times. We wanted nothing more than to get our students back on the field and the courts and classrooms this spring, but it didn’t happen.
“We are hoping with all hope we can resume sometime this summer with our offseason conditioning programs and non-school opportunities with coaches to work with students. Then open up with our band students in July. But that may not happen.”
Breithaup said the UIL is also planning if fall sports are delayed or even worse, if everything were to start up again and shut back down.
“God forbid that would happen,” he said. “If it does, our staff is up to the task.
“Our academic and music staff are working in concert with our athletic staff to make sure we have a bona fide plan that meets standards.”
No fall sports practices will be authorized to start until the UIL sees the American pro sports leagues resume play.
“We are going to make sure our students are safe,” Breithaup said. “We don’t want to work ahead of you. We want to work in concert with you.”
Local athletic officials are all in with the resolution.
“Just like many school districts around Texas giving the Superintendent more authority, this allows UIL Executive Director Dr. Breithaup more flexibility when being able to adjust based on the current conditions,” Goose Creek CISD athletic director Dr. Bernard Mulvaney said. “He will still keep the Legislative Council informed but will not have to have a formal meeting to give guidance on start dates and rules for starting back.”
The council also voted unanimously to allow an adjustment to the eligibility of potential extracurricular participants based on their physical examination status.
Essentially what the proposal says is that a student that received a physical examination and was cleared last year may continue to participate this year unless there is some indication in their history that would require further evaluation, according to Harrison.
“Students who didn’t receive physicals previously – incoming seventh and ninth graders – will still be required to get one,” Harrison said.
Mulvaney has no qualms with the decision.
“Safety is important and medical offices/hospitals do not have the capabilities to treat sick people and give required physicals,” Mulvaney said.
“UIL rules state every two years, many districts like GCCISD requires them yearly. I will work with Supt. Dr. Randal O’Brien on this.”