Shocking news has hit the MIAA.
After a year-long investigation conducted by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Kalamazoo College has received sanctions for violations, in which they awarded extra financial aid to players based on their athletic ability.
Coaches used a matrix-rating system, ranking recruits from highest prospect to lowest prospect. This rating was then taken into account when deciding financial aid packets.
The NCAA found that all of the athletic teams at Kalamazoo College had at least one or more athletes receiving extra financial aid. For this violation, the NCAA put a ban on all post-season competitions for all sports at Kalamazoo College, including conference and national tournaments.
Many athletes commit to a smaller school with a dream of one day winning a championship and getting a ring.
Olivet in recent years has sent many athletes to compete at the highest level, including women’s golf winning the MIAA (Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) from 2011-2013, wrestling sending one of its own to nationals for the second year in a row, and football winning the MIAA conference this past season.
Looking at these past few competitive years at Olivet, how would the college experience for these athletes have differed if the chance to compete had been revoked?
Senior Casey Lamp has been a part of two MIAA conference tournament wins for the women’s golf team at Olivet. The chance to compete at the highest level was important to Lamp when she committed to Olivet College.
“It would have made a huge difference at how I looked at golfing competitively. As a college athlete one of the main things we strive for throughout the season is post-season play, in my case nationals,” Lamp said.
“I think that not having that (post-season play) be even an option would have affected how much work I put in throughout the season, (and) I strive off of competition so it most likely would make golf less enjoyable for me.”
Olivet College’s wrestling program is known for its annual trips to nationals. This past season was no different when the team sent junior Jesse Judge for his second appearance at the national tournament. Judge has used his multiple trips to nationals as an advantage, which he hopes to lead him to a national title in his final year to come.
“Placing in regionals my sophomore season gave me an upper edge I needed. The experience helped me to settle my nerves and showed me what I could expect when making it to nationals. If I knew I couldn’t have gone to nationals, I would have lacked the motivation I needed to push myself through till the end,” Judge said.
“Never even thinking I would make it to nationals in my career, it caught me off guard. I was real nervous to wrestle in an arena filled with hundreds of people. Now that I have some experience of how nationals works I’m pretty confident on making it to the national championship finals in my senior year of competition,” Judge said.
Olivet’s football program has had one of the biggest turn-arounds in MIAA history. With a record of 0-10 in 2012, four years later they improved to a record of 9-1 and winning an MIAA championship. Quarterback and redshirt senior Braden Black has been on the team since 2012 and has experienced all the lows and highs the program has had to offer. Finally winning a ring after being a part of a program that previously had found itself in the bottom of the conference is what Black said made him stick around.
“I think the ring signifies more than just a big piece of jewelry,” Black said. “It really shows all of the hard work that goes into the process. The ring did not come because of individual performances; it came because of the camaraderie and brotherhood of 100 or so guys.
“Yes, I believe my college athletic experience would have differed, because essentially we would have nothing to show for all the work that was put in,” Black said. “If we weren’t in the position we were in, everything we worked for and all of the work would’ve seemed almost useless.”
*This is an analysis by Kori Ramirez.