Tyler Junior College baseball is no longer a member of the Metro Athletic Conference due to a sudden change in the MAC by-laws.
“My news was given to me by the region five director at a NJCAA conference, and he had no idea the MAC had not contacted me,” Dr. Tim Drain, athletic director for Tyler Junior College, said.
Losing the MAC membership means TJC will lose 36 games in their schedule making every game worth more on the road to a district tournament and a national championship.
“Being a member of a conference impacts how we qualify for district tournaments. We can still qualify for the district tournament as an independent, but we lose those 36 games,” Dr. Drain said.
In order to get to the district tournament, TJC needs a winning percentage of at least .500. Losing the 36 additional games makes every game the Apaches play worth more to their winning percentage.
It is similar to using eight tests to determine a semester grade, and then the professor takes away three of the tests at the end of the semester. Whether that student gets an A is determined by the strength of the five tests. This late in the semester, the student is worried if he will pass.
This decision, which went into effect April 1, came during the winter meeting of the MAC. The MAC made decisions on three areas of its membership: memberships of institutions participating at the scholarship and non-scholarship levels in one or more sports membership fees and single-sport memberships.
An e-mail sent from the desk of the Metro Athletic Conference “The Metro Athletic Conference being a non-athletic scholarship conference decided the future of our conference is best served by having member institutions that compete at the Division-III non-athletic scholarship level within all sports.
Tyler is a Division I institution with the exception of baseball. Tyler offers athletic scholarships in all sports except baseball.”
This amendment came after Cisco Junior College dropped their men’s soccer program from D-I to D-III, and applied their soccer team for MAC membership, which was denied.
“The MAC folks supposedly got together and decided they didn’t want bigger institutions using [MAC] to develop their D-III sports in,” Dr.Drain said.
In order to keep institutions like Cisco out and to remove TJC, MAC amended their constitution to only allow schools that participate as D-III in all sports.
On the Dallas County Community College Web site, under the MAC link, there is the MAC joining policy. Updated on April 1, when the new amendment went into effect, the only bolded text in the entire document states:
“All Sports offered by a college wishing to participate within the MAC must play at the Division III level in all their sports.”
“That was not a decision of my office or one the NJCAA made, that was a conference decision,” Mark Krug, director of sports information and media relations for the National Junior College Athletics Association, said. “The conference is run by its members.”
The MAC consists of six schools; Brookhaven College, Cedar Valley College, Eastfield College, Mountain View College, Northlake College, and Richland College. The member schools meet and vote on decisions like the new amendment.
“There was no rule against us joining. We are D-III in baseball, and requested to join their conference in 2004. In 2005, we began play,” Dr. Drain said.
Joining the MAC in 2005, the Apaches became MAC champions in 2007 and 2008, District C champs in 2007, District runners-up in 2008, and National Champions in 2007.
TJC has a lot of decisions to make on the future of its baseball team. One route the team could take is to remain an independent team in conference 14 of the NJCAA.
“We were an independent D-III baseball team for two years, and it was a real big challenge,” John Groth, head baseball coach for Tyler Junior College, said.
The biggest challenge with playing as an independent is the scheduling. Tyler is the only D-III baseball team in the district. They can play as many as 56 games in the spring, 20 games are already scheduled and 36 games need to be scheduled in a conference where there are no other D-III teams.
The other option for the Apaches is to give out scholarships and become a D-I baseball program.
“There are 35 junior colleges in Texas that play D-I baseball. We would go right back into the conference we were in, naturally,” Coach Groth said.
Before 2002, TJC played D-I baseball for 10 consecutive years. The schedule of games would resemble the schedule they had when they played D-I in the past.
With the current state of the economy, the problem lies in finding the funding to award scholarships for current players and prospective players.
“Right now there are more questions than answers in where we are headed,” Coach Groth said.
The one sure thing is TJC will finish out this season’s schedule in the MAC. They currently are ranked third in the country and have a conference record of 28-5.
“Worse things could happen. We’ll survive and find a way and look at our options and figure out where to go next,” Dr. Drain said.: