Art Briles' high school team avoids forfeits after 2 players ruled ineligible

Two players on the Texas high school team now coached by Art Briles were ruled ineligible at a district executive committee meeting Tuesday, though the state's governing body for high school sports told the Dallas Morning News on Wednesday that the undefeated team will not 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 (UIL) 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 that use ineligible players in varsity contests must forfeit those games. However, McCullough said Tuesday that the school believes it won't forfeit any games since the players were initially ruled eligible to play, a conclusion confirmed by the UIL's decision on Wednesday.

Player eligibility appeals are heard by the UIL's state executive committee, which makes a final ruling. A Mount Vernon ISD spokesman said 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 he was fired by Baylor in 2016 in the wake of a sexual assault scandal at the school.