TASO FOOTBALL OFF-SEASON BOARD MEETING RECAP
The TASO Football Division met on June 26, 2021. President Bill Stevens opened the meeting. New District Directors Brian Jones (District 4) and Bobby Rodriguez (District 6) were introduced and welcomed to the board, along with Brock Pittman’s attendance as the proxy for District 5 Director David Maxwell. Guest Wesley Mahan, President of the new TASO Water Polo Division was also welcomed as a guest for the meeting. A Roll Call and approval of the agenda and previous minutes followed.
Tommy Moore was appointed by the Board to serve as Immediate Past President.
Brian Bunselmeyer congratulated TASO on last year’s Annual Meeting webinar. Mr. Bunselmeyer reported that proper mechanics have never been more important and that the increase in live‑streaming of games last season by the UIL made that very important. TAPPS held 7 championship games last season and felt the crews did well. The 227 TAPPS schools will have 30 new Athletic Directors, which will lead to new (and younger) coaches. TAPPS is planning for 7 on 7 this season. Mr. Bunselmeyer encourages chapters to use written contracts with their schools.
Mike Bass, Alvin HS Athletic Director‑ The main goal of THSADA is to increase communication between athletic directors and TASO. Current initiatives the association is working on includes 1) Study of game fees, which could lead to help with the recruitment of officials, 2) increased communication with chapters, which helped during the past season with game scheduling, 3) Administrators on duty for every level of game, not just varsity, and including security during all games and 4) paying officials quicker, which is currently no later than 45 days. Coach Bass wanted TASO to know that we have a voice and they are also looking to add a TAPPS official to the committee.
Joe Martin reports that the coach’s association is currently encouraging players who will not be continuing their playing career to consider officiating as a way to stay involved in the game. Tackling certification has been an important program for coaches over the past three years and the program is moving forward with the next level of the program beginning this year. Program topics include football rules, health and safety and concussions. This year the THSCA is making this program available to officials. More information will be available soon for TASO members.
Dr. Susan Elza is very thankful and appreciates TASO officials that put their health and safety on the line during the 2020 season. There would not have been a season without those officials. Dr. Elza says the UIL is planning a normal season this year and spring practice for large schools is planned. The split seasons from last year were very successful, and the 1A‑4A schools enjoyed the added attention during the first four weeks, but that model is not planned again for the 2021 season. Reduced seating capacity was driven by government COVID regulations and the hope is attendance will be allowed to increase this season. Social media “stars” promoting individual chapters is very troubling to the UIL. Knee coverage rules are not being enforced and they need to be. By not enforcing them during the season, it makes it impossible to enforce during state championship games and we must take a step forward and do a better job of enforcing this rule this season.
Brian Polk added that jersey compliance is always on the UIL Rules Committee agenda and that the UIL will continue to communicate with schools to help ensure they are in compliance. Last season the UIL allowed schools to live‑stream games for the first time. They are currently reviewing it for the 2021 season but he expects some to be allowed, possibly with some stipulations. He concluded his comments saying the UIL is very appreciative of TASO for helping bring some normalcy to the 2020 season.
For the 11 games held at AT&T Stadium there were 18 reviews with an average of 2 minutes per review. For the 18 reviews, nine were reversed, six stood as called and three were confirmed. There was an average of 1.6 reviews per game.
After the $5 game fee increase for the 2020 season, there will be no fee increase for 2021. There is a possible change for travel reimbursements, which will go to the UIL Legislative Council in June. A proposal to begin portal to portal payment at 91 miles instead of 121 was approved last year but it was not approved early enough to be addressed by the Legislative Council. That timing requirement has been met this year.
Annual Meeting and Clinics
The board voted to hold a virtual Annual Meeting again this year with a tentative date of July 31, The cost for the virtual clinic will be $50 and members will receive 9 education points for attending the entire session that day. For those unable to addend the virtual Annual Meeting, an online clinic featuring content from the virtual Annual Meeting will be available. The cost of the online clinic will be $75 and members will receive 3 education points after viewing all of the sections. Both the virtual Annual Meeting and Online Clinic will satisfy the clinic requirement for on‑field game eligibility. Members may not claim education points for both the virtual Annual Meeting and the Online Clinic. There will be no approved in‑person TASO clinics for the 2021 season.
Officials need to use this tool so Chapters can submit rules misapplication to the TASO office. The purpose is to enhance learning opportunities for TASO officials, and submission helps inform the Training Committee of topics for increased training. Recognition of rules misapplications help every official across the state learn and improve, but that is only possible with the help of local chapters. This process is meant for training and should not be punitive.
The board voted the rename the Outstanding Service Award to the John Miller Outstanding Service Award in honor of Past President John Miller. The Dr. Bill Farney Award was approved for Coach Richard Strickland of Mount Pleasant for his life saving attention to an official during a game. The Outstanding Service Award was presented earlier to Gary Speed.
Rules Books and ID Cards
The board approved a budget expenditure to mail a rule book, a 100‑year anniversary commemorative flipping coin, and TASO ID card to each member’s home address. The timing of the mailing will depend on the NCAA’s shipping of the books. Every member is encouraged to visit taso.org and confirm their current address is correct. After entering the member’s portal, click on Portal Desktop and find your name immediately under the calendar on the left. Click “Edit Profile” next to your TASO ID and confirm your address is correct. This is critical to ensure books, coins, and cards are sent to the correct address. Those that are returned or sent to an incorrect address will then be the responsibility of those individual members.
The board approved three mechanics changes during the session. For Crews of 5 and 7, the Umpire will remain on the Team B side of the ball during obvious punt downs. For all crew sizes, the initial position of the Referee will be slightly behind and to the side, no more than 5 yards, of the initial position of the punter during punt downs. In an editorial change, the Head Linesman will now be the Head Line Judge.
Recruiting and Retention
A new committee was formed this year to improve recruiting and retention results for individual chapters and TASO as a whole. The committee will operate with two sub‑committees, one focused on recruiting and the other on retention. The committee is currently gathering date and is looking for help at the chapter level in gathering the data needed to generate a plan. The committee is also reviewing local plans that have shown positive results, such as paid social media, in an effort to develop plan that will be successful across the state.
The testing committee has vetted the current test question pool and eagerly awaits the announcement of changes by the NCAA and UIL Exceptions in order to complete the process. The final changes from those to organizations should be announced by late April and the Testing Committee expects the TASO Rules Test to be available to members by July.
The Training Committee has scheduled the first four training webinars, with the first on Monday, March 22. There will be one webinar each month, each on a Monday at 7:00, with the expectation the schedule will grow to at least two per month beginning no later than July. All sessions will be scheduled well in advance to allow members better planning. Bi‑weekly tests of 5‑10 questions will be available to members on the TASO website beginning in March. A new set of questions will be posted every two weeks with answers posted on the off weeks. Training videos will also continue this season, with a set release schedule that will hopefully encourage more engagement from members.
The remodeled Member’s Portal is complete, giving members a more visual report on their progress toward assignment eligibility and the ability to message chapters and TASO officers directly from the site. The chapter officer’s portal has also been enhanced to assist with their data needs. Football membership was down 10% in 2020, with the largest decrease coming from new members, which were down over 300 from the previous year. As a new UIL and TASO sport, Water Polo will begin their first official season in 2022. In a great show of support and a sign of respect for the job TASO officials do, Water Polo coaches required the UIL to use TASO officials for their new sport. TASO will continue to press the Texas Legislature to move forward on an Official Assault Bill, although the prospects of one moving to the floor this session doesn’t look good after the recent attention on ERCOT and the Texas electric grid.
Dates and Deadlines
Dues late Fee‑ June 1
Closing date for applications‑ November 15
TASO Test Closing‑ November 9
Online Clinic Closing‑ November 9
Spring Middle School Games
Some large school districts across the state postponed 2020 middle school schedules to this spring. It was determined that members that were eligible to work games during the 2020 season, as well as new members that have completed chapter requirements to work games this year, will be eligible to work these middle school games.