NJCAA probe and its outcome were appealed; basketball team gets lesser penalty

By Angela Lingg

 File Photo/Collegian - Kalani Purcell, Hamilton, New Zealand, takes a shot around her opponent in the championship game of the NJCAA tourney on March 21 in Salina.
File Photo/Collegian - Kalani Purcell, Hamilton, New Zealand, takes a shot around her opponent in the championship game of the NJCAA tourney on March 21 in Salina.

The HCC Lady Dragons basketball team suffered a blow this summer when the NJCAA and the KJCCC determined that the program had violated bylaws.

Late last spring, the college was notified that allegations had anonymously been brought to the NJCAA about the women’s team.

According to HCC’s president, Dr. Carter File, the college complied with the NJCAA’s request for documentation.

The NJCAA determined that two student athletes on the women’s team, in the 2014-15 season, were given grants-in-aid in excess of what their letters of intent allowed.

Therefore, the NJCAA imposed sanctions that lowered the number of scholarships HCC could provide to the women’s basketball players.

Instead of having 15 scholarships to give out, HCC will only be allowed 11 in the 2015-16 season and 13 in the 2016-2017 season.

According to File, “After the NJCAA had issued their sanctions, the KJCCC, which is our conference, issued additional sanctions for the same basic reason.”

It was the sanctions imposed by the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference that called for the forfeiture of all of the Lady Dragons’ basketball wins from the 2014-15 season, returning the conference championship trophy, and losing post-season play in the 2015-16 season.

The college felt that the sanctions imposed by the KJCCC were unfair and they appealed them.

In response to the appeal, the KJCCC executive committee reinstated post-season play for the Lady Dragons.

However, a stipulation was imposed on the National Junior College Athletic Association’s sanctions on scholarships: The scholarship cuts must come from non-Kansas athletes.

Despite that stinging blow, File felt that the results of the appeal were for the better.

The people bearing the burden of the sanctions are mostly the athletes who played last year.

“They played the entire season, and so for their season to be removed or forfeited is very sad for those student athletes,” File said.

As far as recruiting goes, File said the sanctions should have little effect.

“I don’t think long term it will have a lot of impact. I think it will for a year, maybe two. Where it hurts us really is our ability to fill up our roster. But I think the students we want, we’re able to get.”

File was confident that they had learned from this experience, and while he questioned the findings, he now feels confident that the college has a better understanding of how the KJCCC and the NJCAA rule on issues like this.

“I’m glad the executive committee decided to lift the ban on the post-season play,” he said.

“I think that is very fair to the students we recruited. I’m still disappointed in the findings.”

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