Monday, May 16, 2011

Junior colleges approve limiting participation of foreign athletes

Concerned by the growing number and impact of foreign athletes — some with sketchy amateur credentials, many older and more mature than the freshmen and sophomores they compete with and against — the nation's 500-plus junior and community colleges have charted an admittedly tricky path.

Starting next year, they'll impose strict roster limits.

By a 30-21 margin, the National Junior College Athletic Association's board of directors voted in late March to hold the number of non-U.S. players at no more than one-fourth of a team's allotment of scholarship players. In basketball and volleyball, for instance, that would be three. In soccer, four. In track, five.

Barring a revote, the measure will go into effect in August 2012. The NJCAA already limits the percentage of foreign athletes on scholarship, but an increasing number were paying their own way through school and essentially competing as walk-ons.

This will establish a firm overall cap.

The action, of course, doesn't quite square with the "give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses" credo that has long invited immigrants to America. "At a time when the world is globalizing, I feel like our organization has decided to build a fence," says Tyler (Texas) men's soccer coach Steve Clements.

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