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School Year Begins with Many C&CR Changes

By Lauren Kelley, UIL Intern | Wednesday, August 24, 2016 12:57 PM

Every summer UIL releases the new Constitution and Contest Rules, and every year schools see changes in rules and procedures. This year is no different.

The Legislative Council (the governing body of UIL) and the Texas Commissioner of Education approved a multitude of rule changes for the upcoming school year.

The academic section looks quite a bit different this year, and it is quite a bit thinner than last year.

“The purpose of all changes was to clarify the academics section of the UIL C&CR,” Director of Academics Dr. David Stevens said. “We are working to make our academic contests more user friendly.”

There are three major changes in the academic general sections. One is an adjustment to academic sweepstakes points. The revision removes the caps on points and includes all events in the overall Academic State Championship.

“This was to ensure schools receive sweepstakes points that they earn and include all academic events to culminate in a true overall academic state champion for each conference,” Stevens said.

Another change approved is the movement of the general eligibility requirements and rules that apply to all events into one section of the C&CR.

“It condenses information that applies to all events to one place, rather than repeated in every contest section,” Stevens said.

The final change eliminates the spring meet alignment and creates a spring athletics alignment and an academic alignment.

“We were able to create a more balanced district alignment based on schools intending to participate in academics in order to curtail districts with 20 or more participating schools and some with less than three schools that competed in academic events,” Stevens said.

This change is meant to create even competition for all schools, based on the events they participate in.

Additionally, contest handbooks have been created for every event instead of rules and procedures being located in several large books that contain superfluous information.

“Our goal is to make the process and procedures to compete, coach and operate our academic events less complicated and easier.” Stevens said.

Changes were made to the UIL Music section of the C&CR as well.

“We removed a rule that required a student to be enrolled in a corresponding class to participate in two concert and sight-reading events with the same code,” Director of Music, Dr. Brad Kent said.

However, sixth graders are still required to be enrolled in a class consisting of a majority seventh grade and above to participate in a UIL music event.

“When we went through the review advisory committee process, the committee felt like it should be a local decision whether or not a student has to enroll in a class to participate in UIL activities,” Kent said.

There is no class enrollment requirement to participate in any other UIL activity.

“We hope this change will have a positive impact on students and directors,” Kent said. “Directors will be able to have more students participate in multiple groups on a different instrument in band and orchestra because there’s no class enrollment requirement now.”

The second major change in music is the ability of schools to apply for non-varsity status even after that school earns a first division rating in concert performance.

“We’ve had a varsity waiver in place where a school could apply for non-varsity status for their flagship group because they’re developing and growing the program, as well as working to develop the skills necessary to handle the rigor of the more advanced literature required of a varsity group,” Kent said.

However, once these schools received the top rating of a first division rating, they were required by rule to return to varsity status.

“Now we have a provision that allows them to remain non-varsity if the school administration requests it,” Kent said. “We hope this update helps those programs so they don’t have to compete against other varsity groups, but so they also have less demanding literature to perform during this developmental period.” 

The athletic portion of the C&CR also has numerous rules changes. Several of the athletic changes revolved around magnet and charter schools. Magnet schools are public schools with specialized courses or curriculum and are becoming more prevalent.

One major change involved multi-district schools with magnets.

“Let’s say a student goes to a magnet school and that magnet does not offer sports,” Director of Athletics Dr. Susan Elza said. “If the magnet does not offer sports and the school within the zoned attendance boundary that the student resides in does offer sports, then that student would be able to participate in sports at that school while also attending the magnet.”

The Council also approved the removal of the 15-day rule for active military students. “They (military families) have to move because of obligations of their job to serve our country,” Elza said. “Our council voted to lift that restriction so that students from military families would have immediate eligibility opportunities.”

Also new this year — student-athletes who want to be paid for teaching private lessons or coaching can receive payment without affecting their eligibility. However, students still cannot work at their school coaches’ summer camp and receive money.

And for the first time, schools will now be allowed to purchase state championship rings for their athletes.
“This has been a long time request of schools to be able to purchase rings for their state championship teams or athletes,” Elza said. “This rule change allows schools that ability.”

Additionally, athletics added a pilot for conference 1A baseball and softball. In district play, 1A baseball and softball compete with 2A teams. With the pilot program, they will complete with 2A teams in district play, and then in post season they will compete in a separate 1A bracket. In 2015, 1A volleyball piloted this program with much success. The council voted to continue the 1A volleyball pilot and also extend it to baseball and softball.

“We are excited for the school year to start and are here to serve our schools,” Elza said. “With 56 constitution changes, we want to encourage to schools to call us with questions and clarifications. We are here to help in any way possible.”