Editor’s note: This story has been updated from its original publishing.
The Art Briles coached Mount Vernon football team is in the midst of controversy surrounding the eligibility of two players.
A District 7-3A District Executive Committee voted 6-0 that Brock and Cameron Nellor had moved into the district for athletic purposes and were therefore ineligible, several media outlets reported on Tuesday.
Because of the ruling, Mount Vernon faced the possibility of forfeiting up to five games, though it is unknown how many games the Nellor’s played in.
As the UIL rule states “In the event an ineligible contestant is used in any League game or contest, knowingly or unknowingly, the minimum penalty shall be forfeiture of the game, contest or event.”
Briles and Mount Vernon received a public reprimand, but no forfeitures were handed down by the committee, Mount Vernon ISD Superintendent Jason McCullough told The Dallas Morning News in a statement.
McCullough appealed to the UIL, citing a Sept. 18 vote that determined the Nellors were eligible, and it was ruled that while the Nellors will remain ineligible, Mount Vernon will not have to forfeit any games.
“Because these students were ruled eligible in a previous DEC hearing, Mount Vernon will not forfeit any football games,” UIL Media Coordinator Kate Y. Hector wrote in an email. “The students are ineligible for varsity athletic competition starting on October 8, and can appeal this ruling to the State Executive Committee. A date for the SEC hearing has not been determined at this time.”
Briles has led Mount Vernon to a 5-0 record and 1-0 start in District 7-3A Div. I.
Mount Vernon was the first football program in the United States to hire Briles after he was fired from Baylor following a sexual assault scandal from three years ago. Briles was coaching in Italy prior to being hired at Mount Vernon.
A school-commissioned investigation by the Pepper Hamilton Law Firm led to a 13-page “finding of fact” report from Baylor’s Board of Regents. That report said football staff members conducted inquiries into sexual assaults by players and did not report them to administration, and that school administrators also encouraged victims to not report complaints.
Briles received a $15.1 million settlement from Baylor and denies any wrongdoing. Briles had coached at Baylor from 2008 to 2015, going 65-37 and winning two Big 12 titles.
“We are disappointed by and disagree with the sudden reversal of field by the District 7-AAA Executive Committee but respect its decision,” McCullough said in a statement. “Facts presented at a previous meeting on this topic resulted in the exoneration of the two students and validation of their athletic eligibility.
“The DEC (Tuesday) voted 6-0 that the two students moved to our school district for athletic purposes as defined by U.I.L. rules, despite what we believe to be overwhelming evidence that the parents moved from Colorado for employment reasons. The DEC also voted 6-0 that Mt. Vernon ISD used a coach not employed by the district in violation of UIL rules. It then voted 6-0 to give Mt. Vernon a public reprimand for allowing a coach on the field who was not employed by the school.”
“Mount Vernon will contact the UIL (Wednesday) to begin the appeal process. We feel confident that once the facts are reviewed by the State Executive Committee, the decision to punish the two students will be overturned.”