Bill lets private schools in UIL with big limits

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Texas senators have voted to allow private schools to play in the University Interscholastic League with two big exceptions - football and basketball.

The Senate removed football and basketball to eliminate worries that private schools would be recruiting athletes for those two high-profile sports. Private schools would still be allowed to participate in other sports such as baseball, volleyball and soccer and UIL academic competitions.

Sen. Dan Patrick of Houston has pushed for years to allow private schools to join the Texas public school league. The bill passed Friday would phase in private schools over five years, with the smallest schools joining first.

Two large private schools, Houston Strake Jesuit and Dallas Jesuit are already allowed to participate in the UIL. The bill now goes to the House for consideration.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)