The University Interscholastic League had its beginning at a Texas State Teachers Association meeting in Abilene in 1910. The leader of the organization effort was E. D. Shurter, who was commissioned by University of Texas President Sidney E. Mezes to undertake the service as part of the newly created Extension Bureau of the university. Known first as the Debating League of Texas High Schools, the league expanded its functions and in 1911 became the Debating and Declamation League of Texas Schools. In 1912 a track and field meet was added by taking over the functions of the Interscholastic Athletic Association, which had been directed for three years by Charles W. Ramsdell. Beginning with two public-speaking contests and an invitational track meet in athletics, the competitive program among public schools has been expanded in both curricular and extracurricular fields to include contests in dramatics, journalism, music, academics, essay writing, football, basketball, track and field, tennis, golf, and many other events. It is now the oldest and largest high school association of its kind in the United States. In 1917 the UIL began the publication of its official monthly organ, the Interscholastic Leaguer (now titled The Leaguer), and in 1965 it opened its membership to all public schools. The organization, which operates as a nonprofit service, is now divided into an academic division, an athletic division, and a music division. It is operated as an extension of the University of Texas Division of Continuing Education. Legislation is initiated principally through a legislative council of public school executives elected by member schools. The salaried staff consists of a director, heads of the three divisions, and an administrative staff. Among the past presidents of the organization was Roy Bedichek, who served as head from 1922 to 1948. In 1993 the president was Bailey Marshall. The Texas Interscholastic League Foundation, founded in 1958, furnishes talented UIL Academic State Meet participants with scholarships to attend colleges and universities in Texas. Since its inception, the foundation has provided more than $8.5 million to approximately 8,300 students. In addition to its regular competitions and foundation, the UIL also sponsors four student activities conferences in various parts of the state and the annual Interscholastic League Press Conference for about 1,800 students and advisors involved in school publications. In 1992–93 more than two million students in grades two through twelve participated in UIL activities. Former UIL participants include Lyndon B. Johnson, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Earl Campbell, Bill Moyers, and Sandra Day O'Connor.
Is history important to you?
We need your support because we are a non-profit organization that relies upon contributions from our community in order to record and preserve the history of our state. Every dollar helps.
Sports and Recreation
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
“University Interscholastic League,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed June 27, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
December 1, 1995