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TribBlog: Game On ... for Now

Unregistered high school umpires will keep their stripes on, for now. A U.S. district judge granted an injunction today requested by the Texas Association of Sport Officials, halting a University Interscholastic League mandate that all high school sports officials register with the agency. Some officials were refusing to register, risking a lockout.

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Texas high school football playoffs will continue on with veteran sports officials overseeing matches after a U.S. district judge granted an injunction today requested by the Texas Association of Sport Officials.

Judge Lee Yeakel granted the injunction against the University Interscholastic League, which had given sports officials until Dec. 1 to register with it or face the possibility of a lockout. Many TASO members said they would refuse to register and let the UIL, a state agency, take over what they say is a working system composed of independent contractors.

Matthew Jones, an attorney with the Hance Scarborough, the firm that represents TASO, says Yeakel hasn’t yet ruled on the UIL’s motion to dismiss the case altogether.

“He is probably still deliberating on what to do about that. It could go back to state court,” he says. The case could still be dismissed altogether, which would leave the UIL back in control. “For the indefinite future, games will go forward as planned. What happens after that is anyone’s guess,” Jones says. The UIL’s motion to dismiss was based on jurisdiction and not the merits of the case, he adds.

The decision is the latest chapter in a months-long saga that began after the UIL amended its rules to require all sports officials working high school games to register with the organization.

Last month UIL Director of Officials Tony Timmons told The Texas Tribune that the registration was free, “nothing more, nothing less,” and merely an effort to streamline communication and ensure the officials have working knowledge of UIL contest rules.

In court filings, TASO alleged the UIL was attempting to “take over, tax, oversee and regulate the occupation of sports officiating in the State of Texas” outside of its authority and in violation of the law.

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