Football players searching for new teams in Texas
By PAUL J. WEBER
Associated Press Sports
Updated: 6:43 p.m. ET Aug. 31, 2005
DALLAS (AP) - For some families displaced by Hurricane Katrina, resuming a sense of normalcy includes making sure their sons can still play high school football.
With Texas high school coaches already being approached by Louisiana residents about joining their teams, the University Interscholastic League said it would allow displaced students to compete at the schools where they temporarily enroll.
Thousands of storm refugees will likely enter the Texas school system following widespread damage caused by the hurricane, Texas Education Commissioner Shirley J. Neeley said.
At West-Orange Stark High School, which sits along the Louisiana border, football coach Dan Hooks said five players displaced by the storm have contacted him about joining his team.
"They've come up to me and said, 'Coach, can we play?''' Hooks said. "It's just sickening what happened. We want to do whatever we can to help.''
Athletes whose entire families move to Texas will follow the same procedure of in-state transfers. Students wanting to play sub-varsity sports can participate almost immediately, while varsity players must sit out for 15 days after completing paperwork and getting approval from the district executive committee.
The process is more involved for students who enroll with guardians remaining in Louisiana. They must also apply for a waiver from the UIL, which has traditionally been a safeguard against recruiting or players seeking a move for strictly athletic gains.
Submitting the waiver usually requires a $100 fee, but UIL spokeswoman Kim Rogers said the cost has been waived because of the hardships families have already endured.
"This is completely different than any situation we've had,'' Rogers said.
Rogers said the UIL has received inquiries from school districts around the state about athletic transfers from Louisiana. She said waiver requests will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
Beaumont ISD athletic director Rodney Saveat said he expects to start receiving transfer requests soon. In Dallas, where large shelters were being set up Wednesday, district athletic director Troy Mathieu thinks the UIL will be accommodating with almost all transfers.
"Given the circumstances, I would think they would be very considerate,'' Mathieu said.
Mathieu, who oversaw operations for the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans before coming to Dallas, said the damage he's seen on television suggests that New Orleans schools would be pressed to resume athletics this year.
For football players hoping to play in college, missing an entire season could dash hopes of being offered an athletic scholarship.
Recruiting guru Bobby Burton of Rivals.com said as many 150 players with Division I potential live in areas that sustained extensive damage from the hurricane. Burton said transferring could diminish an athlete's playing time and exposure, lessening their chances at getting noticed by college coaches.
"It's significant,'' Burton said. "A lot of players are going to be affected by this.''