The new rule from the National Junior College Athletics Association that restricts the number of international athletes on a team may not have the affect on Tyler Junior College athletic like some had thought.
“We are one of the few countries in the world where you can go get a higher education degree and compete for that school,” says Tim Drain, athletic director for Tyler Junior College.
TJC, like other colleges, invites international athletes to join the athletic programs. In previous years, TJC had limits on how many National Letters of Intent, or scholarships, that it could give to players on a sports team. The NJCAA rule was that only 25 percent of a team’s scholarships could be given to an international student. Now, only 25 percent of the whole team can have international athletes. This rule became in affect this fall semester.
The restrictions on international athletes this year has already begun to affect some foreign athletes at TJC. It has had more of an effect on some who had thought about attending TJC to play sports and get an education but no longer can because there is not enough space on the roster.
With less international students on the rosters for the more intercultural sports, such as soccer, some people might worry about the quality of this year’s teams.
“I like what they bring to our team and to our program, but as far as for playing soccer? No, I think people will be surprised how much it doesn’t effect teams,” says Steve Clemmons, head coach for TJC Men’s Soccer team.
TJC student Ryan Kennedy, from South Africa, had played on the tennis team at TJC for a year. After plans fell through for transferring to another school this semester, he was no longer able to play tennis at TJC because of the new restriction rules. Unable to compete competitively for TJC, he will continue training and try out at a four-year school in the fall.
“I think the new rule will affect the season but I think it will also affect other junior colleges as well. I think TJC will still be strong at nationals this year,” said Kennedy.
Some people have had concerns about the quality of TJC’s sport’s teams with fewer international athletes.
“The good schools are still going to be good, I think Tyler is still going to be good, as you can see in the polls now…Is it the end of the world? No. I’m confident in all our coaches that have foreign athletes,” said Tim Drain, athletic director for TJC.
TJC athletics proposed a counter proposition to the NJCAA board that suggested a 50 percent rule, where 25 percent of the team can have a scholarship but only 50 percent can be international athletes. The proposal was not accepted and the NJCAA proceeded to enforce the 25 percent rule.
“The stat I continually like to point out is that 15 of the last 20 national champions in junior colleges were won with seven or less international athletes,” said Clemmons.
Aside from athletics student athletes could miss out on the opportunity to meet different people from other countries that they may not have been exposed to before TJC.
“You miss what they bring to your team culturally, and I think they expose your guys to different countries, and different cultures, they are good for the college campus…It’s an atmosphere I think you lose more of,” said Clemmons.
While some schools might have worries about the new rule, TJC athletic coaches and directors show no sign of concern, planning on going into these next two semesters just as any other.
“We are part of the NJCAA and we are proud of it, so we are going to follow their rules. We’ve adopted that rule, and we are moving on,” said Drain.