The MCC football team getting off to a 1-2 start for the season might be the least of their worries.Six players on the team played in the first game of the year against Snow College on Sept. 6, but weren’t certified to play under National Junior College Athletic Association rules.
The names of players weren’t released by MCC’s Athletic Director Jeff Fore.
The violation was first self-reported by Fore and the athletic department, then the Vice President of Student Affairs, Patricia Cardenas-Adame and President Shouan Pan were notified of the situation.
The notification of the violation was mailed to NJCAA’s Executive Director, Wayne Baker, and received on Sept. 11 by the NJCAA office, according to Baker.
Pan doesn’t take the violation lightly.
“It’s a very serious offense and we don’t condone this kind of behavior,” Pan said.
According to Fore, the athletic department had the unofficial transcripts of the six players, but the department was waiting to get the players official transcripts from their previous high schools and junior colleges.
The NJCAA only requires schools to give unofficial transcripts.
“We go above and beyond what most NJCAA schools do with sending the official transcripts to the NJCAA, instead of the unofficial transcripts,” Fore said.
The NJCAA requires schools to electronically submit eligibility forms on or before the first regularly scheduled contest or 15 calendar days after the beginning of the term in which the sport takes place.
The last player was certified on Sept. 9, three days after the first game took place.
The reasoning for the players playing, despite not being certified, is not clear. Coaches were given a list of the certified players on Sept. 4, but the coaches overlooked it, according to Fore.
When asked, head coach Mike Jacobs declined to comment on the situation.
Fore has come up with a solution to make sure a situation like this doesn’t happen again.
The equipment managers for each sport will being given a list of players who are certified, if a player is not certified, they won’t be allowed to receive their uniform and thus won’t be allowed to play.
“We put things in place after the Snow game to ensure that this doesn’t happen again,” Fore said.
According to the NJCAA eligibility rules pamphlet, the penalty for late filing of electronic eligibility forms for first offense includes mandatory eligibility audit that will be conducted in that sport and a letter of reprimand to the athletic director and the college president.
As of Sept. 24, neither Pan nor Fore had received any notification from the NJCAA.
All six players, however, have since been certified, according to Fore.
With the certification problems, the Thunderbirds started off the year at 0-2, but bounced back nicely on Sept. 20 with a 58-0 victory over Pima Community College at home.
The team hit the road on Sept. 27 to meet with Phoenix College before the T-Birds bye week on Oct. 4.
Mesa then returns home on Oct. 11 against Arizona Western.