NORFOLK – While the sports industry continues to slowly come back into play, a community college in the area had to cut a couple of programs while another will drop in divisions.
According to a release from Northeast Community College in Norfolk, the campus will discontinue its fledgling men’s and women’s rodeo program effective immediately. This move comes at a time of challenging budget planning, partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was a difficult decision for NECC officials to make as the investment necessary to create a quality experience in their rodeo student-athletes is not justifiable in the context of college priorities at this time. The decision was made with the best interests of the college in mind.
Waivers currently signed by rodeo student-athletes for 2020-21 will be honored based on their Letter of Intent and participants from the 2019-2020 rodeo season, as well as any individual currently signed to a Letter of Intent, will be granted a Letter of Release so they may continue their collegiate rodeo career elsewhere.
Coach of the Northeast Rodeo Program, Fenton Nelsen does have the opportunity to remain employed by Northeast in another capacity in the upcoming academic year. The establishment of Northeast men’s and women’s rodeo program was announced in 2018 as their newest additions to the athletic department.
In another budget cutting move, Northeast Community College will be shifting its men’s and women’s basketball programs from Division I to Division II over the next 18 months. Both programs, however, will continue to compete in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) at the Division I level during the 2020-21 season.
Room and board scholarships already signed by basketball student-athletes for the 2020-21 academic year will be honored based on their Letter of Intent, although no additional room and board scholarships will be awarded for the upcoming academic year. This will be the last season that room and board scholarships will be granted to Northeast men’s and women’s basketball student-athletes.
The costs to maintain the basketball scholarship commitment and the travel expenses are not sustainable for NECC.
Northeast will also petition the NJCAA for permission to move both basketball programs to Division II beginning with the 2021-22 season with a new declaration for NJCAA competition at that level for a four-year cycle in the 2022-23, 2023-24, 2024-25 and 2025-26 seasons. The move to Division II for basketball will mean that all Northeast athletic programs will participate at that level of competition.
Other NJCAA Division I basketball programs have petitioned to move to Division II over the past several months. This includes the recent announcement by Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs. It comes at a time when many colleges and universities across the country are eliminating some of their athletic programs or making other adjustments.
Northeast also cut its dance team program earlier this spring. The move of all of the athletic cuts and adjustments will save the college at least $250,000 annually.
All of the changes are critical in sustaining competitive athletic programs while maintaining fiscal responsibility at Northeast Community College.
In addition to men’s and women’s basketball, other athletic programs at Northeast Community College are baseball, softball, men’s golf, women’s volleyball, as well as men’s and women’s soccer.