NWACC set to launch student survey for interest in Title IX sports

by The City Wire staff (info@thecitywire.com) 15 views 

Students enrolled at NorthWest Arkansas Community College are being asked by school administrators and board trustees to complete the Title IX survey they find in the email on Thursday (Jan. 22). The survey is open until Feb. 5. 

This is the first time the community college has surveyed its students about their interest in recreational or competitive club sports. The survey came about because of the discussion around potential Division III sanctioned sports — baseball and softball — which have been proposed by a group looking at the viability of sanctioned sports at the two-year community college.

The committee appointed to access interest and feasibility for Division III baseball and softball programs at NWACC were asked by NWACC President Evelyn Jorgenson to investigate any and all state statutes that involve sanctioned sports at Arkansas community colleges.

The group met in Bentonville Wednesday (Jan. 21) to discuss the findings regarding state statutes. Todd Schwartz, board trustee and member of the sports committee, told The City Wire there was nothing found in the state statutes that would be a red flag for the college offering baseball and softball or other sports should there be interest and private funding for them.

One law discussed at the meeting was the prohibition of community colleges being able to offer student housing for athletes. Football was also discussed at length, but the committee has agreed the costs for football are prohibitive and there is a state law that limits the amount a college can contribute to football programs.

The committee voted last year to pursue Divison III, non-scholarship status, should the board of trustees approve the college moving forward with sanctioned sports in the future. Schwartz has said there are no funds available at the college for sanctioned sports but patrons in the community have agreed to fund baseball and softball for a two-year period to give the college time to evaluate the programs’ success and build those costs into the budget.

There are some state statutes that deal with funding deficiencies involving sanctioned sports. Colleges are allowed to assess a student athletic fee which is set by the board of trustees and then defined in all publications.

The state also imposes a June 15 annual deadline for colleges to certify to the Arkansas Higher Education Coordinating Board their ability to adequately fund all sanctioned sports through athletic-generated revenue, other auxiliary profits, other coordinating board-approved revenue sources, and the allowable state support or board sanctioned student athletic fees.

NWACC reports a student enrollment of 7,100 this spring, noting that the official count will be available Jan. 27. The college also offers numerous club sports but did not have an enrollment number for that demographic. The college also recently obtained a list of how many students in local high schools are participating in sports. All of the schools in the two-county area were contacted. This is a potential talent pool for the sports programs at NWACC should they proceed. Following is the list of students by sport.
Baseball: 618
Basketball: 938
Cross County: 616
Cheer: 607 
Football: 1,785
Golf: 310
Soccer: 739
Softball: 413
Swimming: 263
Tennis: 381

Swartz said the next step for the sports committee will be to discuss the Title IX survey results of the existing students next month, then expand the survey to all incoming students. The committee is also prepared to discuss proposed budgets for the sanctioned sports where there is the most interest from student athletics and public financing support.