Sherman head coach Gary Kinne will not be on the sidelines for the 115th Battle of the Ax tonight after the University Interscholastic League suspended him for violations of rules regarding non-school participation.
The executive committee’s ruling, which came down Thursday in Austin, issued a one-game suspension to be enforced immediately. Kinne was also given a two-year probation and a public reprimand.
“We respect the UIL’s decision in this matter and we will continue to work diligently to make sure that we follow all UIL guidelines,” Sherman superintendent Dr. Al Hambrick said in a statement.
Kinne spoke briefly before boarding a flight in Austin and texted upon landing that he would talk about the situation when he arrived in Sherman. He changed his mind later in the evening.
Don Purdy will serve as the head coach for the Bearcats, who host Denison tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the longest running rivalry in Texas. Sherman has won the last three meetings against the Yellow Jackets and is trying to win four straight for the first time since 1987-90.
Purdy is the Bearcats’ offensive line coach and in his second season at Sherman. He has 26 years of coaching experience.
Players were told of the change in a meeting at 7:30 p.m. Kinne was not in attendance.
The punishment stems from Sherman’s 7-on-7 competition this summer.
Section 1209 of the UIL Constitution prohibits the use of any football equipment, including contact equipment, in non-school participation activities and “shall not instruct any student in 7th-12th grade from his/her attendance zone unless student is his/her own biological or adopted child.”
Two YouTube videos of the Bearcats competing in the Southwest Elite 7-on-7 Showcase in Springdale, Ark. has players wearing helmets that look similar to the ones they use on Friday nights and Kinne giving instruction.
These videos are believed to be the basis for the UIL’s ruling.
In an article for the UIL’s official publication “The Leaguer,” the term non-school participation is spelled out. “The minute a school, school coach or school booster becomes involved in the non-school activity, other than supervision of the facility, it is a school-sponsored event,” according to the publication. “In team sports, there is a start and stop date for the season. When the season is over, schools and school coaches shall not have any contact with students from their attendance zone for the sport that is out of season, other than the athletic period.”
The UIL was scheduled to hear the case at 1:35 p.m. on Thursday afternoon and it was the seventh of eight items on the agenda. The verdict was made known in a press release later in the day.
Every month there is a meeting held by the UIL’s executive committee to discuss eligibility issues, rules violations and official interpretation of policies.
Kinne is in his fifth season at Sherman and compiled a 39-14 record, including the 2-2 start to this year. He is 77-25 overall in nine seasons with stops at Canton and Clovis (Calif.). Before being hired at Sherman he served as an assistant coach at his alma mater Baylor. He was also an assistant at Mesquite during the program’s 2001 Class 5A state championship season.
Denison head coach Chad Rogers found out late in the afternoon about the change for his opponent.
“I feel bad for him and his kids,” Rogers said. “Coach Kinne and I don’t play against each other. It comes down to the kids.”
Despite this coming down barely 36 hours before kickoff, Rogers didn’t think it would lead to Sherman making massive changes.
“I’ve got something in place if something were to happen in me,” he said. “I assume he has that same protocol. I’m sure he’s done that ahead of time.”