Scott Gordon, NBC 5 News
A playoff basketball game between an Orthodox Jewish school in Houston and a Dallas Covenant has been moved to Friday afternoon. Beren Academy nearly forfeited because the game was originally scheduled during the Sabbath.
Editor's Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that a restraining order had been granted. The Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools agreed to reschedule the game after being notified that a lawsuit had been filed. NBC 5 regrets the error.
An Orthodox Jewish day school nearly forced to forfeit its appearance in the state semifinals will get to play this week after all.
Under the threat of a restraining order, the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools agreed to reschedule Friday's game between Beren Academy and Dallas Covenant.
"We were really delighted they had a change of heart but disappointed it took a lawsuit," Beren coach Chris Cole said.
Beren will play at 2 p.m. Friday at Fort Worth's Nolan Catholic High School.
The game was originally set for 9 p.m. Friday, so Beren requested the game be moved to a time outside of the Sabbath, which runs from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.
TAPPS twice rejected the school's requests. Not wanting to violate the covenant of its religion, the team was nearly forced to cancel the game and bring an end to its season.
But angry parents filed a lawsuit seeking a temporary restraining order that would force TAPPS to reschedule the game.
"We are thankful to the TAPPS for ultimately making the right decision. The school administration and board was not involved in any legal action, and we regret that it took a lawsuit filed [by] parents to bring about this decision," Beren said in a news release Thursday. "We particularly want to acknowledge the many member schools in TAPPS who supported efforts to change the schedule to enable our boys to play. We are very proud of our basketball team, the Beren Stars. Not only have the boys demonstrated considerable skill on the court this season, they have handled the stress of the past week with extraordinary maturity and composure."
Team Nearly Forced to Forfeit
After a win last week over Kerrville Our Lady of the Hills, next up for Beren in the Class 2A TAPPS playoffs was semifinal opponent Covenant.
Beren filed a request to have the game rescheduled, as they had done the week before. But this time around, the TAPPS board unanimously dismissed the request. The board argued that Beren knew playoff games would be played on Friday and Saturday when it joined the association and that if it couldn't play at the scheduled time, then it may be forced to forfeit.
The story was picked up by The Houston Chronicle and The Associated Press, and it quickly spread across Texas and, eventually, the nation.
Outraged parents, Christians and Jews alike lobbied for TAPPS to reverse its decision on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. They urged the association to do the right thing and allow the kids to play, especially in light of TAPPS' refusal to schedule games on Sundays, the traditional Christian day of rest.
A second vote was held Wednesday and, for the second time, the board unanimously voted to ignore public sentiment and deny the request to reschedule the game based on a TAPPS bylaw.
After being notified that a lawsuit had been filed, TAPPS director Edd Burleson said the association would reverse course and allow Beren (23-5) to play Dallas Covenant at 2 p.m. Friday. Should the Stars win, they'll start their championship game no earlier than 8 p.m. on Saturday.
Dallas Covenant released the following statement Thursday afternoon:
"The Covenant School is pleased that the game time was rescheduled and that a resolution was found. We look forward to facing Beren Academy in the next round of playoffs, and we admire their patience and sportsmanship through this process."