The Laramie County Community College volleyball team received bad news Thursday. One of its players was ruled ineligible to play by the National Junior College Athletic Association. The player had participated in a league deemed by the NJCAA to be a professional league, despite the fact that the player had never earned any money for playing.
The NJCAA rule states that participation in the league, regardless of compensation, renders the student-athlete ineligible for competition. Documentation received by the LCCC Athletic Department indicates that the player in question participated in one match during the 2008-2009 season and one match during the 2009-2010 season.
Before the season started, initial attempts by the Athletic Department to verify the eligibility of the student in question didn’t reveal that she had violated NJCAA bylaws.
“Sports are organized much differently internationally than they are in the United States,” says LCCC Athletic Director Jason Ficca. “It’s very difficult to determine a student-athlete’s eligibility status in a situation like this. Unfortunately, our methods for determining her eligibility didn’t catch this. Our investigation didn’t indicate that she participated in the league.”
This ruling comes late in the season, when the team was enjoying a 24-3 record and was ranked seventh in the nation. LCCC has to forfeit 20 of its 24 wins – all games in which the player participated. The team’s record is now 4-23.
“It’s lucky we caught this when we did,” Ficca says. “We can still participate in the Region IX North tournament and the national tournament. We still feel like we’re a contender for the regional and national championships. This doesn’t change that.”