Dr. Bill Farney, University Interscholastic League (UIL) executive director, will retire on Jan. 30, following 31 years of service.
Dr. Farney has been UIL executive director since 1995, and was UIL assistant director and athletic director prior to that. But UIL had been part of Farney's life long before he began working for the university. He first competed in UIL's Declamation competition as an elementary school student and as a coach and principal worked to increase the number of girls' athletic programs. He was instrumental in getting girls' track added to UIL sports.
During his tenure at the UIL, Farney developed the academic and fine arts programs and implemented the sports of team tennis, boys and girls soccer, girls softball, and boys and girls wrestling. He was instrumental in expanding athletic competitions for girls well before Title IX legislation was passed. Farney also established officials' associations for soccer and volleyball, coordinated regional academic and athletic contests with Texas colleges and universities, developed and administered reclassification and realignment for public schools and conducted goal-setting seminars for school districts. He has been a member of seven different national athletic rule-making committees, has participated in and published athletic injury research and has initiated the Coaches and Officials Positive Expectations (COPE) program.
"Dr. Farney's work with schools and coaches across Texas since 1977 has made a positive difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of Texas students involved in athletic, artistic and academic pursuits," said Dr. Gregory J. Vincent, vice president for diversity and community engagement at The University of Texas at Austin. "He has been a guiding force for UIL during some difficult times, including the inception of the state 'No Pass, No Play' rule in the 1980s and overseeing testing for steroids more recently."
Farney's influence is seen throughout UIL's operations. He was instrumental in the growth of the Interscholastic League Foundation, which has awarded millions of dollars to UIL academic state competitors.
"His dedication to growing the TILF scholarship opportunities has enabled many state meet competitors to attend college in Texas," said UIL Director of Policy Bonnie Northcutt.
Northcutt, Farney and former UIL Executive Director Marshall Bailey pushed the waiver program in the 1980s, enabling more students with disabilities to compete.
Northcutt, who has known Farney since 1973, said he led the UIL with undeniable dedication.
"He led with a compassionate strength," Northcutt said, "and was able to guide a group with strong diverse opinions to a consensus."
"I congratulate Bill Farney for the tremendous contribution he has made to high school athletic and academic competitions for more than three decades," said William Powers Jr., president of The University of Texas at Austin. "I have known Bill since the 1980s, when I was a member of the UIL State Executive Committee, so I know firsthand that he has made a major difference to UIL and to the students of Texas. We will miss him, but we will benefit from his legacy for years to come."
Prior to working at the UIL, Farney was superintendent of schools at Crawford Independent School District and was a principal for six years at Robinson and Lorena high schools.
Farney received a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Tulsa. He then went on to Baylor University where he earned both a master's and doctor's degree in education. Farney is the sixth executive director in the 100-year history of the University Interscholastic League.