There are few words that make the heart sink more than “The NCAA announced that Kalamazoo College committed three major violations related to recruiting and financial aid…”
Words like “…the penalties include probation and bans on regular season championship consideration and participation in postseason conference and NCAA championship tournaments” give a hollow feeling that signals that something unnerving is about to begin.
Once the blow hits, you’re too disoriented to even talk.
As a student athlete, I take great pride in what I do. Division III or not, it doesn’t matter. We practice, preform, and repeat in the name of Kalamazoo. We represent the college not only on an athletic level, but on the academic level as well. We are here to grow as leaders in and out of the classroom, and through athletics we’ve been given the means to do so.
I’ve been receiving calls from friends across the country saying, “Hey, I heard you can’t swim next year, what happened?” The reality sets in and I don’t know what to say.
The easiest and most satisfying thing to do is blame someone else. But I can’t point any fingers. We can’t blame any coach, we can’t blame any team, we can’t blame the administration, we can’t blame the school. This isn’t anyone’s fault.
The ban is due to the fact that the college previously awarded students financial aid, athletes and non-athletes alike, based on a mix of academics and extra-curricular activities in high school. This includes volunteer work, student organizations, and participation in school activities, such as clubs, the musical, or sports, regardless of continuing those activities into college or not.
In fact, K’s student athletes are granted on average less financial aid than non-athletes at K, and less aid than other athletes in the MIAA as well.
It’s punishing K for good intentions and it’s the athletes who are taking the punch. Why should we be reprimanded for something we couldn’t control? That we had no knowledge of? That was applied to every applicant but now solely stabs the athletes?
We came to school in hopes to continue the pursuit of athletics, and that may not be the case now due to something out of our control.
We are stuck.
We don’t know what to do, what to say, and where the next few months are going to take us and our teams. We are at the mercy of the NCAA, a giant organization that has the power to end our presence in the world of athletics with a yes or a no.
Sophomores’ and Juniors’ financial aid packets will have to be repackaged. If the administration alters the financial aid allocated to a particular athlete, then for some of our teammates, they’ll have to make a decision.
They’ll have to decide between greater student debt, hanging their jersey, or finding solace in another teams’colors. And no one should be forced to make that choice.
On top of that, imagine what this will look like to prospective student athletes. Kalamazoo College is on a postseason play ban?
Why would they want to attend school there to play athletics if there’s a possibility that they couldn’t play? The NCAA has published the incident online, and several newspapers and other media outlets have covered the violation as well.
This will reflect poorly on the recruiting process for the next year or so, and make it harder on our teams to grow in numbers, particularly for new teams like lacrosse.
As for now, all we can do is wait. Though the NCAA violation will not have an impact directly on me, it will have an impact on something much greater. It will have an impact on my fellow teammates, on my coaches, on the reputation of my school among the MIAA and the NCAA, and on prospective student athletes for Kalamazoo College.
We can hope this isn’t the end. I have faith it isn’t. Others are more skeptical.
Regardless of what’s happened, I feel as though this has made the athletes across campus unify due to a horrible ruling. In these ways, we are able to grow stronger because of it. We’ve identified one thing, and it’s that we are one team.