Any chance of taking another NJCAA Division II World Series title has vanished for Western Oklahoma State College this year. According to college president Phil Birdine, after an internal audit at the college this week, it was discovered that six of their athletes were in violation of a NJCAA article that states that an athlete must have completed three years of high school in the United States in order to participate.
“Although these six students were United States citizens, and had completed high school, they did not complete high school in the United States,” explained Birdine.
Birdine went on to explain that in preparation for audit next week, they were doing one last run through to see if everything was okay, and found that they were out of compliance in this area.
“The eligibility item motion was later defeated,” stated Birdine, “but it is not retroactive, so the current players in question are still in violation.”
Birdine said that once they realized the college was in violation, they reported the matter immediately (Wednesday, May 7) and by Thursday, was contacted by the NJCAA.
“They acted quickly,” Birdine said, “but officials appreciate self-reporting, and that we took it upon ourselves to forfeit all 54 of our games for this season before being instructed to do so.”
The forfeitures drastically affects this weekend’s Region 2 baseball tournament being held in Bartlesville. Western has now been removed from tournament play, and has forced a new bracket to be put into place.
“It’s a total wash for us,” said Birdine. “We have been banned from post season play also, and a 1-year suspension from World Series play.”
Birdine also said that Western baseball coach Kurt Russell and Western Athletic Director Bob Pearson both “understand the gravity of the situation.”
There are 70 players in the Western baseball program, 12 of which that are from outside the United States. Birdine explained that Western is allowed to have six of these type of players on the team, but because the other six had become U.S. citizens, Western officials thought they were within regulations.
Birdine did say that this will not affect any scholarships that the players have, but because play has been suspended, some of the students have opted to go back home instead of staying with the program.