Written by Matt Wixon
Wixon: Including private schools in UIL a boon but loaded with questions
The Texas Senate has voted to allow private schools to play in the UIL in all sports — except football and basketball. If the House approves it, private schools would be phased into the UIL alignments over the next five years, starting with the smallest schools.
The Ursuline girls soccer team, which has won 21 consecutive Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools titles, could battle for a UIL title.
The St. Mark’s wrestling program, which has won the last 13 Southwest Preparatory Conference titles, could do the same. Both teams already compete against public schools during the regular season, and now they would get a bigger stage in the postseason.
“It would put us back in the mainstream as far as wrestling goes in this state,” longtime St. Mark’s wrestling coach Rick Ortega said.
It would increase the level of competition, so many private schools would be for it. But as when the UIL extended membership to Jesuit and Houston Strake Jesuit in all sports in 2003, there will be many questions to answer.
Will each private school’s classification — 1A through 5A — be based solely on enrollment or will there be other considerations? Will there be residency restrictions for freshmen who want to play varsity, as is the case for the Jesuit schools?
Will there be well-defined rules and consequences for recruiting? Will schools have the choice of joining the UIL or staying with their private affiliations for all sports? Will they be able to choose to be in the UIL in only a few sports?
First, the House must approve the measure, and then the details can be worked out. But with public and private schools competing together in most states, it’s no surprise the idea is proposed in Texas.