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January 31, 2013 11:00 AM Writing a Football Rivalry Into Law

By Daniel Luzer

 RyanGuillen

Texas A&M University’s move last year from the Big 12 to the Southeastern Athletic Conference threatened to end an established Texas tradition: the annual game between A&M and the University of Texas at Austin (the two schools, longstanding rivals, are now in different conferences).

But one Texas state legislator, Democratic Rep. Ryan Guillen (who attended A&M) is trying to preserve the game, by legally requiring that it take place. According to an article by Reeve Hamilton in the Texas Tribune:

A bill that would require the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University to face each other on the football field every year was filed on Monday by state Rep.Ryan Guillen, D-Rio Grande City.
House Bill 778, as filed, does not specify when the game should occur, but it does offer a penalty should it fail to happen: Whichever institution refused to participate in the showdown would suffer restrictions on its athletic scholarships.

As Guillen (above) put it, “This game is as much a Texas tradition as cowboy boots and barbeque. The purpose of the bill is to put the eyes of Texas upon our two greatest universities to restore this sacred Texas tradition.”

Sacred?

This is a highly questionable use of governmental authority. Traditionally the role of the Texas legislature was only to fund the state’s public institutions. Scheduling games seems like some pretty intense overreach (though governmental overreach into Texas higher education has its own tradition in the Lone Star State).

Let’s see how far this one goes. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer