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Texas Pushes for Review of State HS Association

Just weeks after time ran out in the Florida Legislature, where proposed bills could have significantly restricted the authority of the Florida High School Athletic Association, another state association's future hangs in the balance.

Texas Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston) has his sights set on the state's University Interscholastic League, the governing body for public high school sports. The Texas Senate earlier this week followed the lead of Patrick - a longtime critic of the UIL who claims the organization is among the state's "most powerful" agencies - and voted to place the UIL under sunset review to determine if changes need to be made. Sunset review is a frequently used tool for legislative oversight.

The Texas House of Representatives has already passed a similar measure recommending a sunset review for the UIL.

According to the Houston Chronicle, Patrick "faced some pushback from his peers while proposing an amendment to sunset UIL, which operates under the University of Texas at Austin. The agency is already required to submit an annual audit to [Gov. Rick] Perry's office ... and was reviewed positively during the most recent interim. Patrick countered that the sunset review will also cover management, agency policy and practices."

As the open the public school league to private schools. Public school superintendents and coaches have opposed those attempts. Currently, two large Catholic schools in Dallas and Houston are the only private schools in the UIL, which does permit charter school participation. … The UIL also governs the state's high school steroids testing program that lawmakers created in 2007."

No official statement has been issued by the UIL regarding the sunset review, and a representative of the organization did not respond to a request for comment from Athletic Business.

Texas places most of its major and minor agencies under the sunset review process, and an agency can be shut down if lawmakers do not vote to renew it. But unlike other agencies, the amendment calling for the UIL review does not include an expiration date that would threaten to kill it off.

In Florida, a pair of House and Senate bills could very well have killed off the FHSAA. House Bill 1279 and Senate Bill 1164 would have regulated the FHSAA's investigative powers, overhauled its structure and restricted its eligibility-governing authority. Opponents say that would have torn down barriers that prevent dishonest coaches and unscrupulous adults from recruiting impressionable young athletes, resulting in a high school athletics system ruled by individuals who would go to any lengths to win a state championship.

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