Mumford was robbed: TEA, UIL were co-conspirators


A USTIN—In this, my 40th consecutive appearance at the Texas state high school basketball tournament, me and 9,722 people were witness to a crime, perpetuated by the Texas Education Agency and the University Interscholastic League.

The crime? Mumford was robbed of the opportunity to play a legitimate team for a chance to win the Class A state championship.

In case you haven’t heard, our neighbors the Mumford Mustangs were beaten 80-54 by the Triple A Academy of Dallas.

An appropriate headline would be “AAU team wins UIL title.”

If you didn’t know, Triple A Academy is a charter school that is located in an abandoned Kroger’s grocery store and was started by an AAU basketball coach.

It’s in its first year of competition.

They have no teachers and their 117 students take classes on line. Mumford’s enrollment is 130.

Mumford’s Aubrie King will return next year to give the state tournament another shot. Mumford’s Aubrie King will return next year to give the state tournament another shot. Triple A’s players come from all over the state and since its inception, has caused controversy among Texas basketball coaches and fans.

Possessing a roster of players that could give the University of Texas a run for its money, it includes players standing 6-foot-8 and 6-foot-7 and boasts five players that will play Division I basketball at the highest level.

School founder Leroy McClure found a loop hole—or should we say “hoop hole”—in the system and his application was accepted by the TEA. His son is on the Academy basketball team.

“It’s created quite a controversy,” said UIL Executive Director Charles Breithaupt, stating the obvious. “Most of our 1A schools are rural schools where students go to school in yellow buses and pickup trucks, rather than metro buses. That’s distasteful to the traditional 1A schools.”

Superdrum fans were laying in wait for the Stallions and when they received their gold medals Saturday morning, they were roundly booed.

Minutes before, when Mumford was decorated with their silver medals, they were rewarded with a standing ovation by everyone in the arena.

The people have spoken.

“We’re still public school champions in my opinion,” said Mumford Coach Chris Sodek “and I have no reservations in claiming that.”

“We’re just a little old school out in the middle of a cotton patch. I don’t know what we’re doing here, but we like to play basketball.”

Sodek and his squad appreciated the support.

“It was awesome. Its like we were champions. In reality it was louder than what I had expected if indeed we had won the game.”

The last and only time I can remember a state championship team being booed like that was in 1988 when Paducah defeated Big Sandy 99-61 for the Class A title.

Paducah, led by future Southwest Conference MVP Will Flemons and coached by Randall Ryan, pressed Big Sandy— an undersized team made up of Indians—all over the court from start to finish despite leading by 40.

They were booed unrelentingly when they received heir medals.

Don’t know if he was taking a shot at Triple A, but when by coincidence he was introducing that booed Paducah team of 1989 as an honor team, Dr. Breithaupt mentioned that this was a “real” Class A team. That had grown up together and gone to school since elementary and had worked together to reach their goals.

Academy players have become immune to hostile environments and even use it as motivation.

After the title game, coach Tony Singleton—the players former AAU coach—downplayed the negative reaction.

“We don’t worry about that,” he said. “Boos basically give us more motivation.”

“We know we aren’t going to have a lot of support,” Stallion guard Jeremiah Jefferson told the Dallas Morning News. “So to make the other crowd shut up when we are blowing them out so bad, it feels so good.”

Apparently they don’t teach humility or sportsmanship at this “school.”

They do have a media interview training class, however.

While Mumford filled its allotted section of seats and were clearly the crowd favorites, the Academy fans numbered about 20. To be honest, I can’t remember if they had cheerleaders.

Realizing its mistake, the UIL has made plans to put a halt to these charter schools. Signed by TEA Commissioner Michael Williams, it made a rule change that will require charter schools to compete in the lowest classification in their city district— but not until reclassification in 2014.

That new ruling would place Triple A in Class 3A, which is still too low—and a year too late.

I guess not letting them in in the first place is not an option.

Couldn’t find one coach over at Sholtz’s that thought letting the Academy in was a good idea.

Most used nouns like, “travesty,” “unfair,” “absurd” and “unbelievable.”

To be fair, Triple A has a clean record so far.

With Mumford returning four starters and who knows what five-star recruit will show up at Academy between now and then, we are fast-breaking toward a rematch in 2014.

Now Mumford was not afraid and they surely did not back down, they led after the first quarter and kept it close by intermission before succumbing.

Mumford was aiming to become just the eighth team in UIL history to finish the season unbeaten with at least 40 victories and the first since Dallas Lincoln in 2002.

They finished 39-1 and are 75-2 over the past two seasons.

Should there forever be an asterisk next to this game?

These Mumford kids worked their whole lives to achieve success and they were forced to face a manufactured school, who’s sole purpose for existing is to play basketball.

Mumford players are true representatives of their community.

If these guys were as good as they say they are, seems like they would want to face teams with like talent. Their average margin of victory was 51 points.

So congratulations Triple A, you are the Class A champions. The satisfaction in your achievement is something that is hard to comprehend.

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