By Greg Ritchie
GRAPELAND – The Texas University Interscholastic League State Executive Committee (UIL-SEC) held a hearing by video conference Tuesday, Nov. 14 to decide the fate of Grapeland Independent School District (GISD) Girls’ Basketball Coach Lans Green, after GISD self-reported incidents where the coach broke Texas UIL rules regarding practices, travel and expenses.
(UIL-SEC) Chariman Mike Motheral began the hearing telling those present the committee had seen the evidence and was ready to proceed. GISD was represented by Superintendent Dr. David Maass, Athletic Director Jordan Wood, Girls’ Basketball Coach Lans Green and Assistant Coach Janna Hatton.
The hearing came about after GISD reported possible violations in the beginning of September to the district committee, which passed these on to the state committee. The violations concerned rules 12.06 (regarding off-season team practices) and 12.09 (regarding off-season team play.)
Coach Green had taken some of the players on a trip in February, 2023 with some expenses paid for by a GISD credit card. Another infraction was a June team camp, with some expenses paid for by a district credit card. Coach Green had also allegedly coached in a different state over the summer. Texas UIL prohibits these types of activities.
Motheral addressed Coach Green directly saying, “Coach Green, you’ve made a mess here and there will be consequences coming your way, today. The degree of those consequences will be dependent upon your attitude.”
It was revealed Green had not completed his training the previous school year, although he has completed all of the required training for the current year. This training outlines the rules and updates coaches on what is allowed as rules can change, year-to-year.
Dr. Maass explained the credit card situation has been addressed in the district, telling the committee these cards were issued haphazardly in the past. Wood explained he now has the right processes in place to better monitor training completion and told the committee he will now supervise more closely the girls’ sports in the district.
Green, when given the opportunity to address the committee, was clear he knew he had committed the violations, while acknowledging he did not know, at the time, he would be in violation.
“I take full responsibility. I’m not going to sit here and try to give excuses or point the blame on anyone else,” Green said. “I think when you’re a leader, regardless of the decisions you make, they reflect upon you as a leader. So, I’m not going to say I didn’t know – I could have, should have and would have done better. I have nothing other to say other than, I apologize for it.”
(UIL-SEC) Committee Member Arturo Cavazos said the adults let down the kids, in this instance.
“I’ve been in this business a long time and this is pretty egregious. The disturbing part about all this is that there are no kids at this hearing, and they’re the ones impacted,” Cavazos said. “This is adult behavior, but the recipients of the bad behavior are the children. To not have a system to make certain coaches are finishing the training, is no different than teachers not being appraised. It’s no different than other systems that should be in place at the school district.”
Other committee members agreed, warning GISD the consequences would have been much more severe had they not self-reported these incidences.
“Dr. Maass, I know you came late into this situation but I commend you for doing the right thing and for submitting the self-report,” said committee member Carla Voeklel. “For the coach to not complete the training is totally unacceptable. Training is in place for a reason and must be completed. And then for the athletic director to not follow up on that is unacceptable as well. I know how busy athletic directors are, but it’s your responsibility to make sure everything is happening the way it is supposed to be. I’m glad to hear you’ve put much tighter systems in place for how money is processed and how money is spent.”
The committee debated the fate of both Coach Green and the GISD athletics program, finally agreeing to the punishment to be meted out to Green. He will receive an official letter of reprimand, is suspended for one season from coaching and will be on probation for a period of three years.
The committee stressed that had they received the information from other sources and not from the district directly, the hearing would have taken a much different turn, possibly leading to the harsher penalties on the GISD athletics program. As it was, the kids were not affected by the hearing.
Green has not been coaching this year, pending the results of the hearing. His place has been taken by Coach Rodricka Bryant, while Green has been assigned to teaching duties, only.
Sources speaking to The Messenger off the record blame some lax policies from the past for these mistakes, including not having training verification processes in place, not insisting the athletic director oversee the girls’ program more closely and the widespread distribution of district credit cards.
These sources say the issues have been dealt with at GISD and it has been a learning process for all involved which should lead to this being the last UIL hearing for the Grapeland Sandies or their coaches.
Greg Ritchie can be reached at [email protected]