Two players on the Texas high school team now coached by Art Briles were ruled ineligible at a district executive committee meeting Tuesday, although the superintendent of the district does not believe the undefeated team will be forced to forfeit games as a result.
The District 7-3A Division I Executive Committee ruled unanimously (6-0) that Mount Vernon High players Brock Nellor and Cameron Nellor moved into the district for athletic purposes. The University Interscholastic League, Texas’ governing body of high school athletics, requires athletes who are deemed to have transferred for athletic purposes before the season to sit out a year before participating in varsity athletics.
The two players were initially ruled eligible at a district executive committee meeting on Sept. 18, but Tuesday’s ruling overturned their status. Mount Vernon ISD plans to appeal, according to superintendent Jason McCullough.
“We are disappointed by and disagree with the sudden reversal of field by the District 7-AAA Executive Committee but respect its decision,” McCullough said in a statement. “Facts presented at a previous meeting on this topic resulted in the exoneration of the two students and validation of their athletic eligibility.
“The DEC today voted 6-0 that the two students moved to our school district for athletic purposes as defined by U.I.L. rules, despite what we believe to be overwhelming evidence that the parents moved from Colorado for employment reasons.”
The district executive committee also ruled that Mount Vernon allowed an assistant coach on the field who was not employed by the school. The school was given a public reprimand for that violation.
UIL rules state that schools who use ineligible players in varsity contests must forfeit those games. However, McCullough said the school believes it won’t forfeit any games since the players were initially ruled eligible to play.
“It is our understanding that NO games will be forfeited as a result of today’s actions despite reports from other media,” McCullough said in a statement. “Mount Vernon ISD will contact the UIL tomorrow [Wednesday] to begin the appeal process. We feel confident that once the facts are reviewed by the State Executive Committee, the decision to punish the two students will be overturned.”
Player eligibility appeals are heard by the UIL’s state executive committee, which makes a final ruling. A Mount Vernon ISD spokesman said that they expect the appeal hearing to take place within the next two weeks.
Mount Vernon is 5-0 this season under Briles, who took over in August after a coaching stint in Florence, Italy. Briles has been out of college coaching since being fired by Baylor in 2016 in the wake of a sexual assault scandal at the school.