LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - With the high school football season just four months away concern is growing over what a fall football season looks like.
“I think it is important to prepare people that it may look different,” Dave Campbell Texas Football Managing Editor Greg Tepper said. "It may be a delayed season. It may be a truncated season. It may be where you cannot go to the stadium or only a certain number of people can go to the stadium. I think that is in play and the UIL is thinking creatively on how to get things done."
The first UIL games are set to take place on August 27, which will be the beginning of the 100th season of football under the UIL banner.
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“I do not have any insider information but I do know the UIL is committed to making football happen if at all possible because football is so important to the fabric of Texas and because they want to celebrate their 100th year," Tepper said. “It is going to take something above their pay grade, above the UIL to make it where we do not have some version of Texas High School Football. It may be different. It may be a little weird but I do think right now there is cautious optimism.”
The game of football is big on several levels. It is a way of life in East Texas where going to games is almost as important as going to church or a family reunion. It is also important to school budgets. Revenue from football goes into district’s activity funds and the overall budget.
For example last year in Lufkin the football program (junior high and high school) brought in $206,575 before expenses. Right now coaches are waiting on word from the UIL on how things will look next season.
“It is out of our control," Lufkin Athletic Director and head football coach Todd Quick said. "We have good people making decisions for us and what is best for the kids and we trust them and they will make the best decision for us.”
A lot more money is at stake for the UIL. The UIL generates revenue off of playoff games and the 12 state championship games played every December. The UIL publishes their revenue reports online and the most recent report published is from the 2017-18 school year. That year the UIL made $2,746,275 in revenue. After paying off expenses and over $500,000 that was divided by the 24 schools that made it to state the UIL’s net revenue was just over $1.6 million.
San Augustine has been one of the best performing teams on the football field the past three seasons, making it to three straight state semifinals.
“It would hurt us a little bit but who it would really hurt is our other programs like the band,” San Augustine Athletic Director and head football coach Marty Murr said. “the band makes thousands of dollars a year on football games with concessions and stuff like that. It is their biggest fundraiser so those programs lose out too.”
Murr said the district has already taken a hit with the recent cancellation of spring sports.
“We budget between $12,000 and $15,000 on all the track meets we host,” Murr said. “It is a big revenue for us. We took a hit there.”
Murr is hopeful like all other coaches that the fall will be as close to the old normal as possible.
“I applaud the staff at the UIL,” Murr said. “They have done a good job of keeping the athletic directors and superintendents informed of all the decisions. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they have tried to come back and finish this school year somehow. It is out of our hands but I hope we can come back in the fall for the 100 year celebration because I think our state has the best football in the country and it is going to be a big deal."