The University and Community College System of Nevada Board of Regents today approved Western Nevada Community College's proposal to expand its athletics program. The Board of Regents, meeting in Elko, gave WNCC the go-ahead to enhance its athletics program with the addition of men's baseball and women's soccer. The college has already been competing in the West Coast Region of the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association for two years.
WNCC has sent a formal request to the Board of the California Commission on Athletics to admit WNCC as a member of the Bay Valley Conference and begin playing during the 2005-2006 sports year. The Bay Valley Conference competes in the National Junior College Athletic Association's Division III, which does not allow athletic scholarships. WNCC student athletes would be able to use Millennium Scholarships and would be eligible for other types of scholarships and financial aid.
A 2002 feasibility study by the University of Nevada, Reno Center for Economic Development and a high school survey at six area schools both demonstrated strong support for athletics at WNCC.
Community support has been evident as well. The Youth Sports Association in Carson City and the Parks and Recreation Department voted unanimously to support Wildcat Athletics and will allow WNCC to use their facilities for at least 10 years while the college develops its own facilities. On May 20, the Carson City Board of Supervisors unanimously voted and signed a resolution in full support of athletics at WNCC. About $150,000 in cash, pledges and in-kind donations has been raised.
WNCC President Carol Lucey said, "This is a wonderful opportunity for western Nevada high school graduates who would like to continue their athletic pursuits while working toward a college degree. Now that WNCC can offer an athletics program, Nevada high school graduates can use their Millennium Scholarships, stay close to home and earn a college degree, as a student athlete."
Helaine Jesse, WNCC's vice president of Institutional Advancement, has been working on the Wildcats' athletics program planning for three years.
"The Regents' approval is great. It looks like now, once we get approved by the CCOA, we would have time to be placed on the fall 2005 women's soccer schedule. We can't make the 2005 conference schedule for baseball, but we could play as an independent. We will begin looking for coaches immediately. In fact, the job description for the baseball coach is already on our Web site at www.wnc.edu/foundation/BaseballCoach.pdf."
WNCC's rodeo team has enjoyed some success in its first two years. The team, based on the WNCC Fallon campus but open to all full-time students, hosted its first NIRA rodeo last October. Team ropers Ty Murphy and Garrett Smith took second place and Smith has qualified to compete at the College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyo., June 13-19.
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