The Men’s Soccer Club has been given two years of probation for lack of performance off the field.
The disciplinary action, which will last through the 2014-2015 season, came after only five students on the 17 student team met the academic requirements of at least nine credits and a 2.5 GPA.
“It’s almost 100 percent around academic issues,” said Curtis Larsen, director of Student Life and Leadership (SLL).
The men’s team had been warned about not meeting the academic requirements but was unable to make any lasting improvements.
“Regularly half did not comply,” said Larsen.
With the probation, comes a cut in funding and paid staff for the Men’s Soccer Club.
Informally called a “competition club,” the Men’s Soccer Club had received its own line item funding in the SLL budget.
Larsen said that the team was getting between $10,000 and $14,000 a year for travel but will now have to apply for the regular club limit of $1,500 which can only represent 40 percent of the travel budget. The participants will have to make up the rest.
“Our travel will now be minimal,” said Men’s Soccer Coach Enrique Velasquez. “We will still play major games. We will still expose our players to high level competition.”
Velasquez has volunteered to continue coaching the club with no compensation.
There are no academic requirements for clubs, which Larsen says is ironic.
The college will still look at the academic performance of players at the end of the probation period to make the decision on whether or not to reinstate the club back to an elevated level.
“They could languish at club level for a long time if there is no academic improvement,” said Larsen.
SLL’s eventual goal is to field a team that is National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) ready, so the team can then play at that level.
“The challenge for me now is to make sure that the students know the importance of the academic piece,” said Velasquez.
Velasquez has put into place study hall and monthly academic reports for players.
“We just have to rebuild it, and we will,” said Velasquez.
Women’s soccer woes
Larsen said that the Women’s Soccer Club also faced the threat of sanctions for “playing almost an entire season on the road,” but the club was able to fix that disparity this past season with more home games.
Only two players on the women’s team did not meet academic standards, and they were released from the team.
The Women’s Soccer Club may meet the requirements of the NJCAA but cannot join the association until the men’s team is ready because of Title IX parity rules, though Larsen said that isn’t the only thing holding the teams back.
“In order to elevate one team, we have to elevate both teams at the same time,” said Larsen.
Becoming an NJCAA team would mean that coaches could be paid more, but it also means that students can experience a higher level of competition, which could boost local interest in the soccer teams.
According to Larsen, SLCC’s soccer program is nationally recognized and several players have been successful in transferring to other colleges. SLCC has also produced Major League Soccer player Justin Braun.