Thousands of North Texas baseball games could soon be in jeopardy.
Nearly 200 local umpires can no longer officiate high school games they've called for decades.
Chris Cole coaches the Tarrant County Titans, a tournament team on which his son, Caiden, plays.
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"These kids, they love the game so much, the coaches love the game so much. Not being able to play because of a shortage like that would be travesty," Cole said.
The problem is a potential umpire shortage in the western half of North Texas, including cities like Fort Worth, Grapevine and Coppell.
Umpires with Alliance Umpires Association have called high school games there for years.
But next season, all 185 umpires in the Association could be benched.
"With the situation where it is, there's no upside right now for those schools. They're in trouble," said Chris Dykstra, president of Alliance Umpires Association.
He says a UIL administrative rule change means his umpires no longer qualify to call high school games, and that a deadline to qualify to officiate games next season has passed.
"They've basically been told by the UIL that the way you've gone about this before is no longer acceptable," Dykstra said.
The UIL tells us the umpires' association has been unable to meet its criteria to officiate games and it's trying to find a way to make sure every game has an umpire.
In a statement, a spokesperson said:
"The UIL has a long-standing relationship with sports officials chapters across the state. Recently, a small number of local chapters of baseball umpires, including the Alliance Chapter of the Texas High School Umpires Association, have chosen to separate from the Texas Association of Sports Officials (TASO). The UIL Sports Officials Committee established criteria allowing them to create a new association of baseball umpires for UIL recognition. However, to date, they have been unable to meet that criteria.
We are currently working with TASO to develop a plan to ensure the schools within these service areas will have officials available to cover baseball games. We will continue to communicate to all schools affected and work to find solutions that allow baseball games to be played and officiated with minimal disruption in schedules.
The UIL greatly appreciates sports officials and the service they provide to our member schools and we hope that enough qualified umpires will continue to serve schools in all areas."