Fewer athletes from Kansas competing at junior college level
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Fewer Kansas high school athletes are going on to compete at the state’s junior colleges since out-of-state roster restrictions were eliminated.
The number of Kansas football players in the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference has declined by 80 percent, from 318 in 2016 to 64 this season, The Wichita Eagle reports . Kansas participation in the last two years has declined by 53 percent in men’s basketball and 28 percent in women’s basketball. The conference is made up of 21 members schools from across the state.
“I hate to say that I saw this coming,” Wichita Northwest coach Steve Martin said. “That’s why I fought this so hard because I wanted to protect our kids.”
In theory, the rule changes — abolishing the out-of-state limits, upping the roster limit from 63 to 85, being able to offer a full-ride scholarship instead of a books-and-tuition scholarship — could have benefited Kansas athletes. The roster sizes of Jayhawk Conference teams have increased by 21 percent in the two years since the rule changes. And the football teams in the conference are deeper and more talented than ever before.
It was assumed that Kansas community colleges would stop taking the lower-level players that they had to take in years past just to fill a roster. But Valley Center athletic director Caleb Smith said that not “even the best players, the all-state, MVP-type of kids can get the time of day from them.”
Wichita Northwest has a combined 22-3 record and has played in the Class 6A semifinals and Class 5A championship game the last two seasons.
Martin said only one Kansas community college has come to Northwest and that was to recruit one player. He counts at least half a dozen seniors on his roster this year alone who have the talent to play at the next level and could benefit from playing at a community college. But with that option no longer available, some players face a stark reality if their family can’t afford to support them at an MIAA or NAIA school.
“What is happening all across the city is kids are just done playing football,” Martin said. “There’s not a lot of hope for them.”
Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, http://www.kansas.com