The Waiver Process
If you are thinking about applying for a waiver from the University Interscholastic League (UIL), here are some things to consider when making your decision.
First, it is important to understand that the UIL waiver process is the process by which exceptions may be granted to a few UIL eligibility rules regarding varsity athletics. The waiver process is not the process for addressing alleged violations of other UIL rules, such as recruiting or changing schools for athletic purposes, as other UIL committees consider those matters.
The UIL is the largest interscholastic activities organization in the United States. With over 1,400 member high schools and contests all across the state, the UIL is the primary administrator of high school athletic, academic and music competitions in Texas. As you might imagine, the UIL has a large number of rules governing these events and the students and schools that participate in them. The purpose of these rules is to promote fair and safe competition for all participant students and their schools. In order for these rules to be fair and effective, they must be equitably applied to everyone.
The UIL waiver process is narrow and focused only on a few rules that are related to varsity sports and the difficult circumstances in which a student and his or her family may find themselves. When you apply to the Waiver Officer for a waiver or appeal to the Waiver Review Board after being denied by the Waiver Officer, you are asking for an exception to certain basic UIL rules regarding student eligibility to play varsity sports; an exception to longstanding rules that hundreds of thousands of students have already complied with.
While a waiver may be sought for the Four Year Rule (Sections 403(b) and 446) or the Age Rule (Sections 400 (g) and 408) among others, the overwhelming majority of students and parents who seek a waiver from the Waiver Officer or appeal to the UIL Waiver Review Board do so to request an exception to one of the UIL’s fundamental rules; the Parent Residence Rule. Section 403 states, in relevant part, “An individual is eligible to participate in a UIL varsity athletic contest as a representative of a member school if that individual”, among other things, (f) “is a resident of the member school district and a resident of the attendance zone in which the member school being attended is situated.” See relevant sections of the UIL Constitution and Contest Rules:
The Parent Residence Rule requires, in general terms, that in order to participate in varsity sports a student must attend the school in the attendance zone his or her parent(s) reside. In other words, the student should represent the school and the community where the student and his or her parent(s) live. While the Parent Residence Rule itself provides some alternatives for students who have been enrolled at a school for more than one year or those students who act on the first opportunity in those school districts that allow options for student enrollment, for most waiver applicants the basic tenant of the Rule remains. When students do not live with their parents or a properly appointed guardian, or the parents or guardians of the student do not live in the attendance zone of the school the student is attending, the student will need a waiver to be eligible to participate in varsity sports (unless one of the exceptions set out in Section 403 applies). See also Section 442 regarding parent residence requirements. https://www.uiltexas.org/policy/constitution/general/eligibility
The standard or basis for receiving a waiver from the Waiver Officer, or having an appeal granted by the Waiver Review Board, is basically the same and can be summarized as follows: If the circumstances that caused the student to be in violation of the rule were caused by involuntary and/or unavoidable action such that a reasonable person/Waiver Officer/Board could not reasonably expect the student to comply with the rule, the waiver shall be granted. This standard is not met simply because a parent required a student to do something that the student either did not want to do or had no say in whether or not the thing was done. The words “involuntary” and “unavoidable” are defined in any common dictionary. Importantly, the facts matter in each case and each case is judged on its own merits.
Please know that an appeal to the Waiver Review Board is a new hearing and the Board, composed of volunteer school administrators from around the state, is not required to show any deference to the Waiver Officer’s decision. The Waiver Review Board makes its decisions at public hearings held in the Austin, Texas area.
UIL hopes that this review of the waiver process will be helpful. You are encouraged to look at the online information available on the waiver process. Also, while recognizing that predicting outcomes in a process like this one is nigh impossible, you may find it helpful to see the number and types of waivers that the Waiver Officer has granted as well as cases from the Waiver Board’s precedent manual. https://www.uiltexas.org/waivers/waiver-review-board-precedent-manual
Should you still have question regarding the waiver process, please do not hesitate to contact the UIL Waiver Office.
 http://www.uiltexas.org/waivers (links to UIL webpage listing the types of waiver available.)
 Per Dictionary.com “Involuntary” means “not voluntary; independent of one's will; not by one's own choice”. Dictionary.com defines “Unavoidable” as “unable to be avoided; inevitable”.