Posted at 12:45 p.m., Feb 15, 2016

Noble propose to bring back women's basketball

'Growing to become the best community college and I personally feel
this is a step in the right direction.' -Athletic Director Scott Noble

On Feb. 3, Laramie County Community College’s Board of Trustees sat down to discuss the addition of a women’s sport that has not shared LCCC’s home court in 23 years.

The proposal brought to the board has been to reinstate women’s basketball for the first time since 1992 and deal with concerns in athletic equality.

“This is an exciting thing for us to be looking at,” said Vice President of Student Services Judy Hay, who brought in Athletics and Campus Recreation Director Scott Noble to look at the offerings his department has taken into account and make sure they are doing the best possible work they can to serve their students and community well. One of those items was gender equality and balance with the law in athletics at LCCC, which is part of Hay’s reason to bring back the program. She said she believes LCCC athletes do not meet the equality rules required under Title IX, which is a federal law that compels colleges and schools to ensure women have equal opportunity in all federally funded educational programs.

Strategies to reinstate program

When athletic programs were brought back in 2002 after dropping them because of a downturn in the economy in 1992, women’s basketball failed to make the list. When looking at equality in sports, participation opportunities are one of the many things that are looked at and when looking at the current roster list, Noble saw that LCCC has fallen within the limits of equitability in terms of sporting opportunities. LCCC has an equal number of men’s and women’s sports but a lack of participation with 10 fewer participation opportunities for women than men.

“When we look at some of our strategies that we have in place for our campus one of them is growth,” said Noble, who is equally excited to be a part of expanding LCCC’s athletic department. “One of them is growing to become the best community college and I personally feel this is a step in the right direction.”

Noble visited with athletes here at LCCC, South High School and the Student Government Association, which is where he realized there are many people in the community who would enjoy seeing women’s basketball brought back to the community college as many people had not known that LCCC did not even offer it.

Of the 16 current teams in the National Junior College Athletic Association Region IX program, LCCC is the only institution that does not offer women’s basketball. Region IX includes colleges in states like Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska and Colorado.

Noble also pointed out many opportunities that come with instituting women’s basketball at the college. Restarting the program would allow athletes to stay and compete during their two to four years of schooling. The program is expected to increase enrollment by an additional 18 full-time students. LCCC is also known for having students first and athletes second; LCCC athletes have an average GPA of 2.97, while the average for all degree-seeking students is 2.57. Lastly, a majority of LCCC athletes are known to successfully complete degree programs as 85 percent of LCCC’s athletes graduated last year.

But with positive opportunities for students and the community, financial impacts must also be taken into account.

Financial concerns

“We are in some tough economic times and we’re not sure how exactly the financial situation is going to pan out,” President Dr. Joe Schaffer said. “It’s about giving students an opportunity to engage around something they love that furthers their opportunity to attain an educational goal and that is what makes athletics in a community college really unique,” Schaffer said. He said he hopes to continue supporting other athletic and non-athletic programs to create that sense of community where people can engage one another but before doing so, he wants to be sure on the numbers.

“I do not have an exact number right now, but I know that is something that we are continually working through,” Noble said when asked about the hard costs of putting together this new program. Noble has been comparing numbers with other athletic programs and hopes to have solid financial estimates for a future meeting.

“We are looking at all the moving parts,” added Hay, adding that she has looked over estimates with Noble for scholarships and supporting programs for the first year and beyond. With other programs, Noble said the impact is minimal for the time of season as different programs switch at different times. For example, women’s soccer is currently being shared in the fall with women’s volleyball and in October the two sports would move out and women’s basketball would move in. The capital equipment cost is also minimal with equipment and space already available. “We promise to be brave and bold in looking at ourselves,” Hay said as Schaffer noted that the program would probably cost at least $45,000 for the first couple of years.

The Board does not plan to make a decision regarding the team’s reinstatement until more information regarding cost is available, but Schaffer said LCCC should be more on top of this proposal.

“[The athletic department] is one area we have not done as well as other community colleges with building up that account to fund athletic scholarships from other than the general fund,” Schaffer said about his views on the long-term work that he sees will go into a project with this many opportunities. “What it provides for community and what it really provides for opportunities for ladies right here in Wyoming to actually continue to play basketball at the collegiate level and engage that community, it seems like it’s a good fit,” he said. Noble agreed with wanting to use the program’s opportunities to the college’s advantages.

“With us being who we are, the largest community college, with where we are at, the capital city in Wyoming, and for us to not have the best?” Noble said when addressing the master plan for the expansion of physical education facilities. “My job, my goal, is to, overtime, put us into a position where we are the best. We are a focal point of our community, our state and our national government because of who we are and where we are at. With that comes great pride and that vibe needs to be throughout our campus and not just our athletics and we have a long way to go. What a great challenge.”

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