When the UT TV network was created, I wondered just how the heck one school could fill out its programming schedule. Turns out there’s a lot of potential content available thanks to UT’s historic ties to high school athletics.

“We’re the only one left,” [Dr. Charles Breithaupt, executive director of the University Interscholastic League] said of the UIL, which was founded in 1909 and, under state law, is part of UT-Austin.

Earlier this year, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association became independent of the University of North Carolina.

Through the UIL, Texas typically has more students competing in athletics than any other state. According to figures compiled by the National Federation of State High School Associations, in the 2009-10 school year Texas had 780,000 boys and girls competing in high school athletics while California had 771,000. No other state had as many as 400,000 participants.

The UIL also runs academic and music competitions for its member schools.

Breithaupt said the UIL has a contract with Fox Sports to televise UIL football, basketball and baseball championships, but the deal is only for the championship games in those sports. He said playoff games could be available to the Longhorn network as well as regular-season games. The UIL has a long-standing ban on televising football games on Friday night, out of concerns that the telecasts could hurt local ticket sales. However, that leaves Thursday and Saturday games available for TV, and Breithaupt said more schools will probably warm to the idea of playing on those nights if it means television exposure.

I did not know that about the UIL. Can’t say I’m a big fan of high school sports, but there are plenty of ’em out there, so this idea sure makes sense.

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