Landgraf’s Playoff Reform Bill Levels H.S. Playing Field

AUSTIN — State Rep. Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) filed House Bill 3349 to modernize the University Interscholastic League (UIL) playoff divisions to restore fairness in Class 6A football competition.

Although schools within the UIL’s 6A classification are roughly the same size, success in the playoffs has been one-sided in favor of a small number of teams from a handful of the largest counties in Texas.

Currently, the UIL divides Class 6A teams into two playoff divisions based solely on school enrollment, without regard to any other factors. HB 3349 would direct the UIL to better balance the two playoff divisions in Class 6A by basing those divisions on county population, rather than arbitrary enrollment data. Under Landgraf’s proposal, 6A teams from counties with a population exceeding 500,000 would be in one division, and 6A teams from counties with a population under 500,000 would be in a separate division.

“This proposal is designed to level the playing field in high school football,” Landgraf said. “It’s not a coincidence that 6A schools all across Texas have been shutout of late-round playoff competition under the current, broken system. Community size is a bigger factor than enrollment within the 6A classification, and I believe UIL’s system should reflect that reality.”

Since the inception of the UIL’s 6A classification in 2014, with one exception, every state champion in both 6A playoff divisions has hailed from a county with more than 1.1 million people. Longview High School is the only team from rural Texas to win a 6A state championship in football.

“Student athletes should be able to compete on a level playing field,” the bill’s author noted. “I’m not filing this bill to make anything easy for anyone, but I am fighting to make this system fair for everyone,” Landgraf concluded.