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UIL Eyes Suspending “Friday Night” Broadcast Rule for One Year

The University Interscholastic League (UIL), is poised to suspend the so-called “Friday Night broadcast rule” for one year.

This is the UIL regulation which forbids live video broadcasts or streams of high school football games.  Radio broadcasts of Friday high school football games is allowed.

On May 1, the UIL Legislative Council approved a resolution authorizing UIL Executive Director Dr. Charles Breithaupt to “alter and/or waive rules in the UIL Constitution and Contest Rules necessitated by any disruption of normal business operations related to COVID-19, orders of the state or federal government, or related COVID-19 concerns.”

At last week’s meeting of the UIL’s Legislative Council, Breithaupt told attendees “I do believe this is a time for us to stand down on our Friday broadcast rule, not permanent, just for a one-time venture, because, we know this, there will be many people who stay away because they are fearful, particularly our elderly and our senior citizens.  We want to give them a chance to see the game based on what the local district allows.”

While the UIL “officially” is indicating that temporary suspension of the rule is still “under consideration,” Breithaupt noted that the UIL was committed to a full, regular schedule of high school football with crowd attendance based upon restrictions on crowd size issued by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. 

In a press release covering multiple topics issued after conclusion of the UIL Legislative Council meeting, the UIL said “until UIL releases official information regarding implementation around this issue, the current rule remains in place. Pending guidance from state authorities, further information will be forthcoming prior to the start of the 2020 football season.”

The 2020 football season marks the 100th anniversary of UIL-sanctioned high school football in Texas. 

Breithaupt indicated in the UIL Legislative Council meeting that the UIL’s goal was to post Fall schedule information on by the beginning of July.  

“The agreement between two schools to broadcast a game either digitally or on a linear product would exist for just this year.  The UIL has no interest in getting involved in those conversations unless you need our assistance.  We’re not going to gain one thing from this.  It just gives people a chance to see the game that wouldn’t ordinarily come because of COVID-19,” Breithaupt said.

“We believe this gives local districts the chance to go out there and negotiate something on their own or to do a student broadcast back to their local community.  I have no notion to carry this forward after this year.  This will end following this football season.”

TAB anticipates the UIL will make Breithaupt’s comments “official” by posting information on the UIL’s website in the coming weeks. 

TAB believes it is advisable that stations interested in providing video broadcasts and/or streams of live Friday night high school football should begin making their preparations now, including proactively opening discussions with local schools and school districts to broadcast or stream such games.

Questions? Contact TAB’s Michael Schneider or call (512) 322-9944.

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