CWC probe finds second player who should have been ineligible

Feb 21, 2013 By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

An investigation into student athlete eligibility at Central Wyoming College has revealed at least one more player in violation of National Junior College Athletic Association rules.

Officials on Wednesday reported the results of the investigation, which was initiated in October after the NJCAA notified CWC that two volleyball players who were part of the team during the 2010, 2011 and 2012 seasons had previously played professionally for the Superliga of the Brazilian Confederation of Volleyball. NJCAA rules specifically state that student-athletes may not have participated in that organization.

Shortly after the violations were announced last year, the NJCAA ordered CWC to forfeit all of its victories for the past three seasons, more than 60 in all, and ruled that the Rustlers could not compete in the Region IX volleyball tournament in the postseason.

Jason Wood, CWC's executive vice president for student and academic services, said another student on the volleyball team may have competed on similar teams but has no confirming documentation.

"The college did research the eligibility status of that student but has been unable to confirm that student's eligibility," Wood said. "It is recommended that CWC not permit the student athlete ... to play in any future season of the CWC women's volleyball team until such time as the student eligibility status can be confirmed."

Staff also performed an audit of all student athletes who have participated in athletics at CWC since round-ball sports were reintroduced six years ago. Wood said that review revealed that one international student, who played for the CWC men's basketball team during the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 seasons, had been ineligible due to the student's participation on at least one professional team in Europe. Officials said the student initially was cleared by the CWC athletic department and later was cleared by the NJCAA as eligible.

As a result of the findings, Wood said CWC has imposed sanctions on itself. First, he said, no new international students will be recruited to CWC's volleyball or men's and women's basketball teams for the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 seasons.

"That will allow time to develop and strengthen our internal processes and structures, and there's also a punitive factor in that," Wood said. "We recognize it was a failure of the institution."

He reiterated that CWC staff did not know of the students' ineligibility to play on the volleyball team during the 2010, 2011 and 2012 seasons. Wood said staff conducted eligibility searches for the four international student athletes who played for the volleyball team during that timeframe, but no records exist to document independent efforts to verify or confirm eligibility status for two of the four international student-athletes.

Regardless, Wood said the NJCAA does not require intentional misconduct in citing a violation.

"It's not whether we knew or intended to break the rules, it's simply that the rule was broken," Wood said.

Also as a result of the review process, CWC now requires that all international student athletes take the Test of English as a Foreign Language to ensure they understand any documents they are asked to sign.

"The fact that we don't require the test to even be taken was a big red flag," Wood said.

Finally, he said, staff will review the organizational structure and job duties within the CWC athletic department. Wood said CWC's registration and records office will be responsible for athletic eligibility documentation from now on, and he recommended that employees responsible for NJCAA eligibility determinations participate in annual training on the NJCAA rules.

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