BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — Kellogg Community College announced Wednesday that their men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball programs will not play competitively this season in neither the National Junior College Athletic Association nor the Michigan Community College Athletic Association.
Athletic Director Tom Shaw said he’s been in the industry for 30 years, and it was on of the hardest decisions he’s ever had to make.
“Those are tough decisions because not everyone’s doing that,” Shaw said during a Zoom interview with FOX 17 on Thursday. “So, I look at tough institutional decisions like a pot of soup. Every institution has its own ingredients. So, where one institution might make a decision based on their ingredients, another [may do so] for other reasons. So, I’m excited for the schools that are moving forward and really sad for the schools that had to make some institutional tough decisions, and we’re one of them.”
Shaw said KCC does not have the finances or infrastructure to play competitively this season like some of the other big-name schools like Michigan State University.
He said at bigger institutions, officials keep their players in dormitories — or bubbles — to keep them healthy, safe and socially distant from other people. Thus, they're able to play games without wearing masks.
“We don’t have the infrastructure to test six times a week. So, our option was masks,” Shaw said. “It’s really a tough decision. Healthy and safety is first and foremost during a pandemic. We just weren’t comfortable as an institution to put our athletes into a situation where they could contract or give this virus.”
Shaw said even though the news was hard, the student athletes seem to be digesting it well. The NJCAA has decided not to count this academic year, which Shaw believes will give students the chance to begin next season with a clean slate academically.
“[They’re] very resilient, still fist pumping me through the hallway,” Shaw laughed. “I think they’ve been kicked quite a few times throughout this process. So, I think they’re getting a little more resilient and they just kind of go, ‘Let’s move on.’ And, part of our decision is we can practice. Now with the [executive order] being lifted, in the basketball sense, we can do basketball-type practice.”
Shaw also said an alternative scrimmage season is planned for April and May, when the school's academic semester ends. He hopes that by that time, they won’t have to play with masks.
He believes the more people get vaccinated the quicker sports will return and their student athletes can resume pursuing their dreams of playing at the next level.
“At the JuCo level everyone one of them want to move on to play at a four-year school,” Shaw said. “They wouldn’t be playing if they didn’t want to move on and scholarship out and continue their careers. So, two-year athletes are pretty darn motivated to get to that next level, which in their case is a four-year school.”