Cancellation of games against sanctioned

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teams results in discontent of players By Ryan Johnston

A petition has surfaced at Palo Alto College to reverse the district’s decision to cancel all intercollegiate games in the district.

During the board of trustees meeting Nov. 6, Chancellor Bruce Leslie said that intercollegiate sports were to cease immediately based on liability issues.

“Our insurance carrier will not cover for sanctioned games,” Leslie said.

According to Adelina Silva, district director of student and community program development, the insurance will cover club teams against club teams because the games are set up by students and not the institution.

Leslie explained that there have been a number of cancellations, but since this has come late in the semester, many teams have played against sanctioned teams, and this movement will be for the spring semester.

“Obviously, the board has not purchased insurance to go beyond intramural programs,” District 9 trustee James Rindfuss said. “If anything had gone wrong, we would have been in trouble.”

The board will be evaluating contracts with other teams to see if any commitment was found that the teams should honor.

At the moment, Leslie said none have been found.

He said the presidents of the colleges should speak with the coaches to cancel all games against sanctioned teams. 

He said that Silva and Dr. Federico Zaragoza, vice chancellor of economic and workforce development, are to go back and help the colleges work out a new plan for intramural sports.

“Work with the students to redesign the program from scratch and their expectations of the board for intramurals,” Leslie said.

At Northwest Vista College, the campus cross country team had to cancel all 10 meets scheduled this semester. Twelve students were on the team, including two students who turned down National Collegiate Athletic Association track scholarships.

In basketball, they had 22 games scheduled, and eight were canceled.

For this campus, only three games from both the men’s and women’s basketball teams were canceled, but most games from the volleyball, soccer and basketball teams have been played this semester.

Finally, Leslie said they would need a new policy statement that clarified the board’s position on the matter and set it up for the policy committee to decide what they want to do.

This decision did not sit well with players at the Palo Alto men’s basketball program.

After playing four games of their season, 11 of the men’s team games were canceled, thus members of the team started the petition.

Jeremy Hammond, business management sophomore, has been on the men’s basketball team for two years and explained that he and the team have worked too hard for the games to be canceled.

“I want the board of trustees to recognize when they cancel these games, who it’s affected for all of ACCD,” Hammond said. “I’m not real happy, I’ve been here for 2 1/2 years, playing other sanctioned schools. I’ve been working really hard during the last year, and for them to cancel the games was a real downer.”

Colton Thompson, liberal arts freshman, said that he could have gone to any college he wanted, but believed in Palo Alto’s basketball program. Now, he’s disappointed with the level of competition they have to play against.

Thompson has been playing basketball since he was 7 at the YMCA and played on MacArthur High School’s basketball team.

“There isn’t enough competition because sanctioned teams offer more talent than teams we’re able to play,” he said. “I want to be a better basketball player, and these teams offer a good challenge to where I can show that I can play college ball.”

For Thompson, he agreed that the competition level was minimal from nonsanctioned teams.

“The main thing is the competition level,” he said. “The intensity is much higher.”

When talking about a possible waiver that would allow the students to compete against sanctioned teams, Thompson said, “Honestly, I think it’s a good idea. I guarantee that all of my teammates would sign. They’d go to any measure to play.”

He said that he would like the board to look at what talent and opportunities they are taking away from the students.

“Take a look at all the talent that’s brought in,” he said. “Take a look at who it’s affecting and the opportunities that are taken away. All coaches recruiting and offers to sanctioned schools and what is brought into ACCD. Also, it’s a chance to play at the collegiate level.”

John Libby, men’s basketball coach at Palo Alto, said that with this decision, he will have more difficulty with recruitment.

“From a recruitment standpoint, I’ve lost a major tool of mine, with the exposure to larger programs,” Libby said.

In 1999, he explained that the board decided not to fund intercollegiate sports, in a vote 5-4.

“Initially, it was about insurance,” he said. “The accident insurance the students had would not cover intercollegiate sports.”

He explained that it wasn’t until September that the school was not competing against teams from the National Junior College Athletic Association.

“I have athletes that are crushed,” he said. “The only reason they came here was to get exposure to larger programs.”

He explained that according to the director of compliance at the NCJAA, a club team is still a club team, no matter who they play.

“Don’t stop a club team from playing an intercollegiate team, just because it’s an intercollegiate team,” Libby said. “There are other options than to cancel all games together.”

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