David Flores: Suit against UIL reflects Hagee's broad agenda
Web Posted: 02/14/2007 03:05 AM CST
San Antonio Express-News
Let's cut to the chase and call Cornerstone Christian Schools' federal lawsuit to force its way into the University Interscholastic League what it is: a crusade by fire-and-brimstone preacher John Hagee to fight the heathen secular state.
Anyone who believes otherwise is na´ve or unfamiliar with Hagee's history.
The good reverend, who founded Cornerstone Church in 1975 and serves as its pastor, can demagogue with the best of them. In Hagee's world, the words "heathen" and "secular" are pretty much one and the same.
And in this case, the UIL, which governs extracurricular activities in Texas public schools, makes a big, juicy secular target for Hagee.
A defensive lineman on the Trinity football team in the early 1960s, Hagee always has loved a good fight. But he should have pulled his punches on this one.
Cornerstone has no business in the UIL. If it had just followed rules when it was in the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools, Cornerstone wouldn't be wasting money on attorneys' fees today.
Yes, two private schools, Dallas Jesuit and Houston Strake Jesuit, entered the UIL in 2003. And, yes, it took a lawsuit by Dallas Jesuit for it to get in.
Still, the dynamics were different in that case. Those schools had larger enrollments than other private leagues allowed and didn't have a history of rules violations.
The same can't be said of Cornerstone.
The UIL denied Cornerstone membership last fall after the private school's contract with TAPPS was not renewed for the 2006-07 school year.
Cornerstone filed suit against the UIL on Monday, starting a battle that could have far-reaching implications for the future of interscholastic athletics and other extracurricular activities in Texas.
"We turned them down because they did not meet the criteria," UIL director Bill Farney said Tuesday.
Cornerstone claims in its lawsuit that the UIL based its decision on biased policies that discriminate against private, religious schools.
Give me a break.
If the UIL's rules are so discriminatory, why are the regulations that govern TAPPS schools so similar?
Much of the Cornerstone-UIL clash will focus on Section 12 of the UIL constitution, which includes guidelines for a school's eligibility to participate and whether Cornerstone is still eligible for membership in TAPPS.
The UIL claims it is. And under UIL rules, that would prohibit Cornerstone from entry into the state's largest extracurricular organization.
But even if it isn't, the UIL constitution states that no non-public school will be allowed into the UIL that has had its right to participate suspended or revoked for violating rules or codes by another league similar to the UIL.
TAPPS officials last fall cited Cornerstone's noncompliance with the organization's rules as the primary reason for not renewing the school's membership contract.
Given Cornerstone's history of rules violations, no objective person should have been surprised with TAPPS' decision.
After all, last fall wasn't the first time Cornerstone and TAPPS parted ways. The first split came a decade ago when officials concluded the school recruited five Mexican players, including future NBA forward Eduardo Najera, to play at the school for the 1994-95 season.
Cornerstone sued for reinstatement and rejoined TAPPS in 2000.
You would think the school would have learned its lesson. But Cornerstone was sanctioned by TAPPS in January 2006 after officials ruled 11 basketball players were ineligible because they received improper room-and-board inducements.
In the end, TAPPS officials showed Cornerstone the door because they were concerned with the large number of transfers who were enrolling to play basketball for the Warriors.
What a mess.
Here's hoping a judge dismisses Cornerstone's lawsuit as frivolous.
Cornerstone Christian SUing UIL for Entry
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