Are Texas High Schools Building Their Own Sports Teams?

The next big scandal in Texas athletics: high school recruitment.

By Alain StephensJuly 28, 2015 9:36 am

When Texas A&M-bound basketball star Elijah Thomas helped Lancaster High School take home its first state championship, he made a remarkably revealing statement. He said, “coming to Lancaster was the best decision I ever made.” Decision? Absolutely.

It seems more and more high schools are finding ways to cherry pick top athletes in schemes that rival those of top colleges or even pro teams. Corbett Smith of the Dallas Morning News is focusing on the issue in a four part series called On The Move.

According to Smith, the rosters of some of the state championship contender schools are full of kids from other towns or neighboring high schools. It is most rampant in major metro markets where larger schools are closer together – but the practice of recruiting players is at play throughout the state.

“It’s pretty clear to see when some of these state championships come reloading every year, that there’s some mobility at play,” Smith says.

While there are rules against mobility, Smith explains that because our society is “far more mobile today” people are moving inside major metropolitan areas for jobs. And single families are  “a bit easier to move.” Students are not technically able to transfer for athletic purposes only. It’s up to a school’s administrators and faculty to look into the purpose of a student’s move.

Smaller schools with less robust athletic programs might get transfers from larger schools, so that a student could “get some limelight.” Smith says oftentimes in larger schools, “bigger and better athletes increasingly move together to coalesce.” Players that participate in Amatuer Athletic Union Boys Basketball will move to schools so they can continue to play together.

Dallas Morning News did a survey among area coaches, and a large percentage of them have never flagged a student for transferring for athletic purposes. “One coach actually told us that if she couldn’t give the player the program that they wanted to play for,” Smith explains, “then she was fine to let them move on.”