SMCISD Superintendent Cardona shares message regarding recent UIL decision
San Marcos Community,
You may have read on Oct. 25, that the University Interscholastic League’s State Executive Committee banned San Marcos High School football for the 2023/2024 school year for recruiting. That much would be true on the surface and many have probably already formed their opinion one way or another. I am not here to change your mind. I am writing to present you with a full picture of what transpired and allow you to make that decision based on accurate information.
It was the enrolling of 11 transfer students from the same select team in San Marcos High School that gave rise to this situation. The assumption is, and has always been, that SMCISD was recruiting — how else would these 11 players have known to come to San Marcos? The evidence submitted and the testimony of the parents reinforces the fact that these students were not recruited and that these parents were resourceful enough to find San Marcos on their own. There have been multiple other allegations that SMCISD has disproved, including submitting a recording of a Judson ISD employee admitting that he did not write the statement attributed to him and that he was forced to sign it under threat of termination by a football coach in Judson ISD. This is information the SEC, UIL and Superintendent of Judson were made aware of, however this has not been fully explored for some unknown reason. I am hopeful the UIL will investigate this in due time. As a member of the self-governing District Executive Committee, these actions cast doubt upon the “investigation” conducted by the 27-6ADEC and the recommendation to punish students and families and the school district.
All persons who serve on a UIL committee or perform work on a UIL committee’s behalf must adhere to the UIL Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct found at §33 of the UIL Constitution. In the case involving San Marcos CISD, the DEC committee repeatedly failed to abide by the UIL Constitution and Contest Rules as well as other state laws. Specifically, the DEC:
1. Failed to send notice to the parents of SMCISD athletes in a timely fashion as required by the UIL Required Procedures for DEC Hearings.
2. Failed to provide notice and documented evidence and witness list to SMCISD and Athlete’s Parents Five (5) days before the hearing as required by the UIL Required Procedures for DEC Hearings.
3. Used two anonymous complaints in violation of Texas Education Code §26.008 against student athletes.
The DEC should not have allowed anonymous information to be submitted in the packet of evidence that would be used against the student athletes and should not have allowed anonymous information to be considered in the adjudication of the student athletes.
Voted when the matter should have been forwarded to SEC with no vote.
4. The most concerning of the all the DEC’s due process violations is their violation of 4(f) of the Required Procedures for DEC Hearings which provides that no DEC committee member may vote in the proceeding if they are:
A. Presenting a formal protest or evidence or argument of an informal protest;
B. Making a report of a violation;
C. Being charged with a violation; or
D. Are the school the student is leaving or moving to.
Had this rule been complied with, all but two schools that make up the DEC would have been prohibited from considering this case and from issuing any penalty or recommendation for penalty and the cases should have immediately been forwarded to the SEC for consideration. Instead, the DEC, who were all biased and conflicted, issued a penalty and recommendation for penalty that biased SMCISD and the students before they even reached the SEC.
5. Violated the Texas Open Meetings Act 551.043 by not sending the notices via mail to the parents addresses. Instead, the DEC Chair sent via email to our football coach who forwarded the notices two days before the hearing.
If San Marcos CISD must follow the rules, and we have shown that we have, the DEC should as well. One letter from a member school stated, “We understand that punishing a team by disqualifying them from post season honors is uncomfortable, however, athletes will still get the opportunity to display their talents and compete in the 10-game regular season.” Surely, if this was their team, or worse yet their sons’ senior year, being disqualified from post season honors would be more than uncomfortable. Blindly supporting the DEC to empower other DEC’s is not a good enough reason to ruin the athletic lives of current sophomores, juniors and seniors who are not involved in this at all. By suspending SMCISD from post District honors they are not impacting the students this process was initiated to deal with. There is no concrete evidence of recruiting and, to the contrary, the parents provided legal affidavits stating that they were not recruited. Moreover, it is important to underscore, the fact that no one – coach, student, or parent, have admitted to deliberately recruiting, which said statements to this Committee have been under oath and under the penalty of perjury.
This was a witch hunt that began before the district knew about an anonymous allegation sent to the state by a parent of a North East ISD student that was later proved to be a lie. It was perpetuated by a second anonymous letter again proved to be a lie. Had the 27-6A DEC Committee conducted their due diligence, this should not have resulted in any punishment, but that is not the course of action this committee chose. They chose to go after minors and parents who made a choice that did not fit their narrative. Living in this community, we all know the hundreds of students who attend other districts who are athletes and who still reside in San Marcos. We have chosen to respect those parents wishes because parents should make that determination. Unfortunately, a group of adults chose a different path and was supported by another self-governing committee not accountable to follow the due-process, rules, and regulations that exist outside of UIL.