The UIL released a statement Monday saying the recent disqualification of a track athlete had nothing to do with religious beliefs.
The release paints a much different picture than what the athlete's parent told local media outlets.
The Columbus High School track team finished first in the 4x100 meter relay at the Region IV 3A regional track meet April 27. After crossing the finish line, Derrick Hayes pointed to the sky.
His father, K.C. Hayes, said his son was giving thanks to God.
“It was a reaction,” Hayes said. “I mean, you’re brought up your whole life that God gives you good things, you’re blessed.”
The UIL’s report said after Hayes raised his hand, a meet official approached him to warn him of a possible disqualification, should that behavior continue. The official then said the student reacted disrespectfully, prompting the disqualification. Officials at the meet conferred and the disqualification was upheld.
"The basis for the disqualification was due to the student-athlete behaving disrespectfully," according to the release.
The report said at no point during the discussion of the infraction was the issue of religious expression raised by anyone involved.
The report also contains an excerpt from a letter Derrick Hayes submitted to the UIL as part of the investigation saying, “Although I am very thankful for all God has given me and blessed me with, on Saturday, April 27, 2013 at the Regional Track Meet in Kingsville, TX, my actions upon winning the 4x100 relay were strictly the thrill of victory. With this being said, I do not feel my religious rights or freedoms were violated.”
The report also contained part of a letter from his parents, KC and Stacey.
“It was not our intention to force the issues that our son’s religious freedom was violated. Nor do we feel that way now," the parents said. "After discussing this with our son, we have come to the conclusion that his religious rights were not violated.”