After it was discovered last weekend that Central Lakes College had used an ineligible player in the playoffs, CLC administration decided Tuesday the Raiders will not accept an invitation to play in the Valley of the Sun Bowl game Dec. 1 in Phoenix.
CLC, which beat Rochester 33-23 for the Minnesota College Athletic Conference state championship Nov. 4, was scheduled to play Glendale (Ariz.) Community College in what would have been the Raiders’ fourth bowl game in four years.
Kelly McCalla, interim vice president of academic affairs at CLC, said Tuesday a player dropped a class via the Minnesota State College and University online system that enables students to do so. McCalla said, although it was an honest mistake, the player went from 15 credits to 11. Only full-time students (minimum of 12 credits) are eligible to participate in athletics.
“We had a violation,” McCalla said. “We could look the other way, but we’re not going to. We did something wrong. No one meant to, but we need to do what’s right.
“I met with the players Monday. It’s no fun. I understand their frustration. Most of them are perfectly fine student-athletes. We have the highest graduation rate of any football program in the state. (Coach) Greg Medeck and his coaching staff do a marvelous job, but a mistake was made.”
As a result of the ineligibility, McCalla was sending a letter to the National Junior College Athletics Association Tuesday to report the violation and address the possibility that CLC may have to forfeit its three playoff wins and its MCAC state championship.
“They could say we didn’t break a rule, but it seems pretty black and white to us,” McCalla said. “You have to have 12 credits to be full-time. You have to be full-time to participate. He was at 11 (credits).
“We did break a rule so we won’t send the team to a bowl game. That should be a privilege. If we as a college didn’t do the right thing, then it’s a privilege we didn’t earn.”
McCalla noted that CLC is in the process of taking measures to assure a similar situation doesn’t occur.
“We’re now looking at what is the best practice to make sure everyone stays eligible,” he said. “We need to change some things so it doesn’t happen again.”
When contacted Tuesday, Medeck declined to comment.
MIKE BIALKA, sports editor, may be reached at 855-5861. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bertsballpark.