Apprehensive by the number of international athletes competing, the National Junior College Athletic Association passed a rule that restricts the number of international athletes competing in intercollegiate sports. The new law limits teams to a specific percentage of international players they can recruit. It is to go into effect August 2012.
Originally, teams were allowed to award 25 percent of their scholarship money to international athletes but had no limit on the number of foreign athletes that could compete.
Katie Miller, a sophomore from Mineola and a member of the women’s soccer team exclaimed, ” This rule is only stealing a good education from foreign athletes! The fact that only four of our players can be international is ridiculous.”
Stacie Murray is a freshman and midfielder for the woman’s soccer and also a native of Southampton, England, and agrees with her teammate. While supporting the men’s soccer team during their match against Coastal Bend College, she said, “I feel that this rule is unfair.”
The NJCAA argued that they couldn’t check the backgrounds of all international athletes giving athletes an advantage if they had competed in semi-professional leagues in their home country.
The number of international athletes competing in the United States has dramatically increased over the past 10 years. Tripling in numbers, the popularity for competing foreign athletes in the Unites States went from a less than 3,600 athletes to nearly 11,000.
Age difference on foreign athletes was also a major issue. Schools often recruited international students that were older and more experienced than competing athletes.
While some TJC teams won’t be as affected as others, teams with a roster containing mostly international athletes could take a fall. Only time will tell.
“I don’t see the rule going through. It has passed but has never gone into effect in the past. The rule will be revisited in March. If it does go through, however, we will adjust and move on. We will be fine.” said head coach of the women’s soccer team, Corey Rose.
TJC’s men’s soccer team, two time national champions, is no stranger to international players. This fall, 17 players out of the 25-man roster are internationals. While soccer is main athletic program bringing in foreign athletes, the rates for international athletes competing in volleyball and tennis are also on the rise.
Coleman Swierc, KLTV’s sports anchor and reporter says, ” It will change the make up of teams that’s rosters heavily rely on foreign players. Local players will benefit from this new rule but the coaches at TJC are good enough that they’ll be able to find talent.”
The United States is the only country that allows athletes to attend college and play a competitive sport. Athletes in foreign countries have to choose between competing on a professional league or getting an education else where. When the rule is revisited, coaches from Region 14 will attempt to persuade the NJCAA Board of Directors to not go though with the new law.
Athletic Director Tim Drain is hoping that the board will consider the consequences that this rule will imply.” International students pay the highest fees to get an education. If the rule passed, I feel that junior colleges would see a loss financially when it came to international students.”
Drain is very confident that TJC’s athletic program will survive. With majority of the coaching staff being recipients of various elite awards and a renewed athletic facility, attracting athletes is not something Drain is worried about.
“Every team is different. Each one is going to be effected differently when the rule goes into effect but I am confident that our campus, athletic department and coaches will keep attracting athletes to TJC,” said Drain.