JUDGE DROPS LAWSUIT AGAINST UIL: TRANSGENDER WRESTLER, MACK BEGG, STILL REQUIRED TO WRESTLE GIRLS
After two challenges, the UIL’s current steroid policy remained intact Tuesday.
The policy came into public light in relation to the case of Mack Beggs, the Euless Trinity transgender wrestler who went on to win a girls wrestling state championship while taking testosterone under a “safe harbor” provision in the education code.
On Tuesday, a Travis County judge dismissed a lawsuit asking the UIL to not allow Beggs to compete. Around the same time, the Senate Education Committee left pending a bill that would have changed the organization’s safe harbor provision.
The lawsuit, originally filed just before the wrestling regional championships in February, was brought by Coppell lawyer Jim Baudhuin and alleged the risk of injury to other wrestlers and an
unfair advantage to Beggs. Baudhuin amended the lawsuit several times leading up to the hearing and argued that the UIL was not following its rules related to steroid use.
The UIL filed for a “Plea of Jurisdiction,” which asked for the case to be dismissed for several reasons before it went on to a trial, leading to the hearing Tuesday.
In her explanation for dismissing the claims, the judge said Baudhuin’s case was more of a question of what the UIL did with its discretionary powers than a question of the UIL not following the law or its constitution.
Both UIL Deputy Director Jamey Harrison and the Beggs camp were pleased with the result.
“It was kind of expected,” said Damon McNew, Beggs’ stepfather. “It’s what the UIL stated a little bit after the competition.”
McNew said there was “absolutely” relief the lawsuit is over.
Baudhuin also said the ruling “wasn’t unexpected.”
“This was a very difficult, frustrating case,” Baudhuin said.
Baudhuin attempted, in part, to argue that the UIL had failed to prove Beggs fell under the “safe harbor” provision outlined in the state’s education code. The UIL cited FERPA privacy law.
Baudhuin subpoenaed Harrison to testify on UIL rules but the judge cut off the testimony, saying this hearing was not the time to fish for information.
Baudhuin said he’d talk with an appellate lawyer and discuss if they’ll choose to appeal.
“As I’m standing here 15 minutes after the hearing is done, I don’t think we’re going to pursue it any further,” Baudhuin said.
Part of the UIL’s argument was the law could change in the coming months. That chance got smaller Tuesday as Senate Bill 2095 was left pending.
Leo Barnes, the UIL’s directory of policy and compliance, told the committee that as of now, the organization can only conduct randomized drug testing, and that program is not currently funded.
It also would require any person seeking protection under the safe harbor provision to release medical records to the UIL and allow communication between the organization and the student’s healthcare professionals.
The UIL could also declare the student ineligible despite the safe harbor provision if it determines the safety of other students or fairness of competition would be affected by the student’s steroid use.
With the bill pending, it could be voted out of committee, but the chances of that are small. Thus, the UIL’s current steroid policy remains.
At least until June, when the UIL legislative council meets.
Courtesy of Sports Day
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