Nov. 5, 2012, 11:55 a.m.

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Big changes for NJCAA

Laramie County Community College sports could reap the benefits of recent National Junior College Athletic Association rule changes made at its March 28–31 meeting. The rule changes will prevent competing colleges from stacking teams with international student athletes and allow more teams into national tournaments.

Two important proposals passed by the NJCAA for the 2012-2013 season include an increase in tournament spots for basketball and soccer programs. Basketball will now increase from a 12-team tournament to a 24-team tournament; however, consolation games will be removed with the exception of a third-place game.

Currently, the NJCAA is taking redistricting proposals for both men’s and women’s soccer. Women’s soccer will increase from eight to 12 districts, but men’s soccer will remain at eight.

Districts increase for women, stay same for men

Men's and women's soccer national tournaments will increase to 12 teams, which could benefit the LCCC soccer teams currently ranked (men's at No. 13, women's at No. 17). LCCC men’s head soccer coach and sports information specialist, Vince Gibson, said: “I think that is a great idea since the old format allowed eight teams, but the U.S. has added so many men’s soccer teams at the college level. It was time for a change.”

Possibly the most momentous rule passed concerning international students was Article V, Section 12 of the NJCAA Bylaws, which limits the number of international students who will have eligibility. Prior to the rule change, colleges were allowed one-fourth of total scholarships for international students; however, if the students could pay their own tuition and fees, there was no limit on international athletes could participate on a team.

The new rule will allot one-fourth of the team's scholarships to international students, but the team cannot exceed this number. For men's and women's soccer the scholarship number for international athletes is four, three for men's basketball and women's volleyball.

Before the rule was changed, some teams, including the 2011-2012 academic year men's soccer champions, Cloud County Community College in Kansas, had an overwhelming number of international students on teams. On its championship winning roster 19 students on the team were international, and only five were domestic players.

New rule will not affect LCCC students

Gibson said he believed this rule would not affect the way LCCC recruits at all because the college's teams have not traditionally recruited excessive numbers of international athletes. He also said the issue has not been a big problem within Region IX, the conference in which all LCCC's athletic programs, excluding equestrian and rodeo, are members.

Gibson said he believed the greatest success of this rule change is it leveled the playing field for all colleges.

Gibson said he viewed the rosters of teams participating in the NJCAA men's soccer tournament last year and the average number of international athletes was about nine; he continued to say that LCCC typically has had four to five international athletes on the team.

Though some NJCAA teams have stacked teams with international students, Gibson said he believed the state and surrounding region had a strong recruiting pool.

Gibson said that "a lot of the stateside kids can play as well as the internationals." He said one of his proudest moments as a coach was defeating Barton County Community College last season using all six of the Wyoming players on LCCC’s roster.

"We can do it locally," Gibson said.

Age cap for international students

A second rule that will affect international eligibility will put an age cap on international students; however, this rule will not take effect until Aug. 1, 2013. The rule will remove one year of eligibility for students who are 21 and two years of eligibility for students who are 22 years of age and older before Aug. 1 of the athletic year. Simply put, students who are 21 before Aug. 1 can play only one year, and students who are 22 before the start of the year will be deemed ineligible.


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