By Tabi Secor
The National Junior College Athletics Association (NJCAA) has passed new regulations that directly affect the college’s sports teams this season.
According to the NJCAA, the number of international students allowed on a sports’ roster cannot exceed one-quarter of the total number of athletes on the team.
NJCAA officials voted on the new rules in 24 regional conferences across the country two years ago and implemented them one year ago.
“The coaches have known about this for a year,” said Carl Heinrich, director, Athletics. “I am not aware of any player that would have been a freshman last year who was not afforded the opportunity to come back this year.”
Even though some teams have been affected by the new regulations, Heinrich said that he is unaware of any student who was dismissed from the team because of them. He did say, however, that sports such as soccer and tennis have had to cut back on the number of international students on the team.
The college belongs to the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference (KJCCC), one of twenty-four regional conferences in the NJCAA.
Bryce Roderick, KJCCC Commissioner, said the new regulations will have a positive effect on the conference.
“It will serve to balance the regions across the nation, because all teams in that sport can only have the same allowed number of international athletes,” he said.
The official reasoning for the change has to do with the philosophy of the conference being one which serves the community.
“When the dominant number of players on a team are international athletes, then there is a question of serving the community and therefore community support is eroded,” Roderick said.
Heinrich believes the new regulations were impacted by the amateur or professional status of some international athletes.
“What rules are made for is to put everybody on a level playing field, and to compete, and let the game be won on the court or the field,” Heinrich said. “So, were we really giving a fair opportunity for you as a student to compete against another school that had maybe pro players that were paid, and their skills were much higher?”
Heinrich said there are instances in which the new regulations come up short. One of those instances is in the case of international students who might not have been born here, but have spent a significant time playing sports in this country.
“We still have some holes, and it’s the undocumented person that maybe goes three years to Olathe North,” he said. “They don’t have a green card, then they come here and we have to count them as one of the four.”
Despite the fact that these new regulations have been passed, Heinrich wants to continue to focus on serving the local community.
“The reason for that is by definition of who we are,” he said. “We are a community college. We are here to serve Johnson County first. Our philosophy has always been we want the best athletes at Johnson County that we can possibly get and sometimes there are limitations.”
Contact Tabi Secor, news editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.