UIL, referee dispute threatens to cancel high school football playoffs

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Gabe Gutierrez / 11 News

Posted on October 20, 2010 at 7:22 PM

HOUSTON – A dispute between referees and the state organization that regulates high school sports is threatening to cancel football playoff games next month.

This year, the University Interscholastic League ordered all varsity referees to register with the University Interscholastic League by Nov. 1.

The Texas Association of Sports Officials is crying foul and is suing the UIL. The TASO is worried about extra registration fees, even though the UIL says there won’t be any – at least not immediately.

Still, some referees are threatening to walk off the field. That means football and volleyball games next month could be cancelled.

"It's a very real possibility," said Mike Melancon, a longtime referee and past chairman of the TASO. "The main reason is control. We still want to train our own officials and govern ourselves and be independent."

A federal judge in Austin heard arguments from both sides Wednesday, but the hearing was still under way as of late afternoon.

Local school districts are watching the fight closely.

"We can't negotiate with every single individual (referee)”, said Ed Warken, the Galena Park Independent School District athletic director. “There has to be some kind of set pay scale, so we can budget."

Athletic directors from local districts met Wednesday to discuss the issue. They said it was very unlikely the games would be cancelled.

"Whether we get (the referees) here locally, or go other areas of the state, we will move forward and get officials for our games," Warken said.

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