DUNCANVILLE, Texas - Duncanville High School is the No. 1 ranked basketball team in the state, but they will not be playing in this year's playoffs.
Duncanvile ISD Superintendent Dr. Marc Smith announced on Friday that the team will opt out of UIL postseason play for the 2022-2023 season.
The decision comes just weeks after the UIL decided to strip Duncanville boys team of its 2022 Class 6A state championship, and put the team on probation after ruling they used an ineligible player.
The ineligible player, Anthony Black, now plays at the University of Arkansas.
In the summer of 2021, he transferred from Coppell to Duncanville.
Last year, the UIL ruled him ineligible to play because of the nature of the transfer.
Black’s family fired back in court and ultimately won. He ultimately played due to court rulings. The UIL still chose to punish the district anyway.
The UIL said that didn't change its initial ruling, and punished Duncanville ISD.
"We believe the UIL has a better understanding of our situation and will not impose any additional penalties if we opt-out of post-season play this school year," said Dr. Smith in a statement Friday. "Duncanville ISD respects the UIL, we are a proud member of the organization, and all of us want to expedite decisions that prove our commitment to winning with honor by following UIL rules."
The night before the season starts, Duncanville players said they were blindsided.
Players and parents spoke out after practice Friday, saying the district made this decision without asking for their input. They called the decision unfair.
"We just want to do what we do best, and that’s play basketball," senior captain Jackson Prince said.
Prince said, right now, his team is trying to block out the noise, but admitted it's difficult with another blow to the top-rated Duncanville basketball program on the eve of their season.
"It’s distressing that we are getting caught up in the politics of all of this," Prince said.
Duncanville’s superintendent said this decision was made in the best interests of the students, the program, the district, and the community.
However, parent Tarasha Holland disagrees.
"This is their senior year. They have been loyal to the school since their freshman year," she said.
The self-imposed ban comes just days before the UIL is set to meet and discuss if Duncanville should face harsher sanctions.
The district, in its statement, said it’s basically trying to get ahead of the UIL, giving itself a punishment to avoid more penalties.
"We weren’t involved in some of the decision that was made last year," Prince said. "We feel the UIL and the current decisions they made are enough. The punishment has fit the crime, as they would say."
Now, this year’s chance to win back the championship appears to be out of the question.
"We just feel powerless. We feel we are the most affected, but the most neglected in this situation," senior Aric Demings said.
Earlier this week, Duncanville announced it would be reassigning both the boys head coach David Peavy and the head girls basketball coach LaJenna Howard to other jobs within the district.
Former athletic director Dwight Weaver was also reassigned to serve as a campus administrator.
"This change in leadership is the first of a multi-step plan to strengthen our athletic programs and our national reputation as a powerhouse athletics organization," said Dr. Smith on Thursday.
The Duncanville girls team was suspended from this year's playoffs by the UIL for violating recruiting rules and practice restrictions.
Longtime girls coach Cathy Self-Morgan retired in 2019 amidst an investigation into possible recruiting violations. Self-Morgan says the investigation had nothing to do with her decision to retire.
Even with their season cut short, the boys team will continue to compete in its posted schedule, including district games.
They are now trying to block out the noise with another blow to one of the top-rated teams in Texas.
"We have more of a chip on our shoulder now than we ever had," Prince said. "Starting tomorrow night, on the court, we will show the world who we really are."
Duncanville ISD did not return out request for comment or an interview.
The boys team plays Saturday in Duncanville against San Antonio Brennan.