AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — One of the chief critics of the University Interscholastic League is pushing lawmakers to conduct a thorough review of the governing body for public Texas high school sports.
The Texas Senate on Tuesday followed the lead of Sen. Dan Patrick of Houston, voting to place the agency under a process known as a sunset review in 2015. Lawmakers use the sunset review process to examine an agency to determine if changes need to be made.
The House has already passed a similar measure, and Tuesday's Senate vote in the final week of the legislative session gave it a key step toward becoming law.
Patrick, a Republican and chairman of the Senate Education Committee, has clashed for years with the UIL, most notably over his attempts to 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.
In floor debate on the measure Tuesday, Patrick called the UIL one of the "most powerful" agencies at the Capitol. Anyone opposing it gets "slammed down pretty quickly," he said.
Several senators questioned whether such a review was needed, noting the UIL is subject to an annual financial audit and is routinely shown to be an agency in good standing. Patrick said the sunset review covers much more in terms of management, agency policy and practices.
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.