Texas officials and the University Interscholastic League (UIL) are moving forward with plans for a new medical advisory committee that will recommend health and safety policies for public school athletes.
Education Commissioner Jim Nelson met Aug. 21 with UIL officials to come up with a plan for the new committee that will be made up of six to 10 members, including mostly doctors, a high school trainer, and a coaching representative, Nelson said.
A UIL committee had approved establishing such a committee in June, UIL executive Director Bill Farney said. Typically such a committee would be named and approved at the UIL’s next council meeting in October, but the UIL was hoping to allow the committee to meet in September. The recent deaths of two Texas high school football players has put a spotlight on safety in high-school athletics.
On Aug. 17, 15-year-old Steven Taylor, a football player at Luling High School in Dallas, died after returning home from a morning workout. Preliminary inquiries indicated Taylor may have gone into cardiac arrest. Officials say they don’t believe the death was heat-related. The team had not had contact or running drills that day.
Leonard Carter, a 14-year-old football player at Houston’s Lamar High, collapsed Aug. 18 during a scrimmage and died less than two hours later. The Harris County Medical’s office ruled he died of an enlarged heart, a pre-existing condition. Doctors say his death was natural.
“These kinds of terrible tragedies always want to make you take a second look,” Nelson said.
The committee will look at all UIL policies and procedures and recommend any changes to the UIL Legislative Council. The UIL is the governing body over public school athletic competition and championships in Texas.
Nelson will give final approval for any new rules. He said he will work with UIL Legislative Council Chairman James Terry on the appointments to the board.