STAFF WRITER CONNIE SWINNEY
BURNET — The superintendent at Burnet Consolidated Independent School District has reinforced his district’s philosophy and policy against drug use, including performance-enhancing drugs, in the wake of public outcry over alleged steroid use among Gatesville Independent School District athletes.
Disciplined Gatesville High School athletes had faced additional suspensions by the University Interscholastic League after an investigation uncovered a coach and parent’s alleged roles in providing performance-enhancing drugs to six students.
On Oct. 27, a panel of superintendents from District 13-4A ruled the players should face 30 days’ suspension from extracurricular activities. Burnet High School participates in that football district along with Gatesville, Lampasas, Liberty Hill, Waco La Vega, and China Spring.
Later the same day, an appeal resulted in a UIL commission overturning the ruling, which reinstated the athletes’ eligibility statuses.
The issue stemmed from this past summer when a Gatesville Middle School coach had allegedly gave performance-enhancing drugs to student-athletes. That coach has resigned, and the Coryell County District Attorney’s Office is reviewing the matter. According to officials, none of the students tested positive for illicit drugs.
Burnet CISD Superintendent Keith McBurnett weighed in on how his district expects students, parents, and coaches to respond to such issues.
“Our athletic program is designed to not only build champions … it is also designed to develop outstanding young men and women,” he stated in his weekly address to the community.
McBurnett also shared a past incident in which a student alerted a member of the coaching staff to a drug use issue.
“(A) Burnet athlete was randomly drug tested as their team was preparing for an important competition,” McBurnett stated. “Before the drug testing results arrived, the athlete went to Coach (Kurt) Jones and shared with him that they would not pass the recent drug test.”
Even though school policy would have allowed the athlete to participate prior to the return of test results, Jones, who is the athletic director and head football coach, opted to follow the “spirit of the policy” and prohibit the student from participating, which subsequently launched disciplinary actions.
McBurnett applauded the coaching staff’s handling incident.
“The athlete immediately began counseling and community service, in lieu of competing. … I appreciated (Jones’s) handling of that situation,” McBurnett stated. “As a school district, we strive to not only do the right thing in all we do, but we try to do it the right way.”
Editor Daniel Clifton contributed to this report.