Local superintendents will meet Oct. 27 to discuss what, if any, action will be taken after six Gatesville High School football players were accused of using performance enhancing drugs allegedly given to them by a coach who has since resigned.
The District 13-4A District Executive Committee of the University Interscholastic League (UIL) will convene at the Lampasas Administration Building in Lampasas late Friday morning to determine if the students violated Section 50(a)(4) of the UIL Constitution and Contest Rules, which details compliance with state laws regarding extracurricular activities, according to a meeting agenda obtained by Channel 6.
The district first launched an internal investigation July 19 after an individual described only as "a concerned community member" made the accusation to the district, Gatesville ISD Athletic Director Kyle Cooper said when the story first broke over the summer. The situation was subsequently reported to the Gatesville Police Department, which opened its own investigation. In compliance with state law, officials at Gatesville ISD also said they notified the Texas Education Agency's State Board for Educator Certification and the UIL.
In accordance with the district protocol, each of the six students was placed on a 28-day suspension that included counseling and additional drug testing. But, Superintendent Eric Penrod told Channel 6 none of the students once tested positive for drugs. As of late Wednesday evening, Gatesville ISD was not aware of a single piece of evidence that proved any of the students used the performance enhancing drugs they are accused of taking, Penrod added.
“I would hope people don’t pass judgment on anyone until the whole process plays out," Penrod said.
Gatesville's Varsity Football team is currently undefeated. Penrod believes the district followed all proper protocols and made all necessary decisions only to have the matter brought back up right before district play began.
He and five other superintendents sit on the District Executive Committee that will convene Friday. Another superintendent on that committee explicitly told him the only reason this investigation was even being pursued further was because Gatesville's football team was good, Penrod said.
“It feels like it’s gotten too emotional at the DEC level to allow due process to play out, and that’s really unfortunate for the kids," Penrod said.
Gatesville ISD did not know who lodged the complaint, and Penrod said he harbors no ill will toward the individual -- adding he believed that person was trying to do the right thing. He stressed the accusations against the employee who resigned have yet to be proven and nobody claimed the alleged activities happened at school.
“We have systems in place," Penrod said. "When something is brought to us, we always investigate.”
But, the other members of the DEC were not satisfied with the investigation, which found no drug use. The DEC recently voted four to zero that there was enough evidence the students had violated the rules to proceed to the new hearing on Friday, where the students will get to make their case. Penrod abstained from voting due to his position. And, the chair of the board did not vote either.
At Friday's hearing, the students will have the opportunity to present their side and answer questions from the DEC, which will have three options: to give them a public reprimand, suspend them from extracurricular activities or dismiss the whole thing. If a suspension is issued, the student athletes will be able to appeal the ruling to the State Executive Committee (SEC).
Gatesville ISD's legal counsel will not defend the students at the hearing, per protocol. If the students choose to seek legal representation, it will be their own.
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