Columbia College self-reported to the NAIA on Tuesday that Ursulla Jose of Brazil played on the women’s basketball team despite being ineligible last season.
Jose, a freshman last year, played despite having a degree from the Universidade Salgado de Oliveira in Brazil. According to NAIA rules, a player has exhausted his or her eligibility once he or she has graduated.
The Columbia College transcript evaluation office noticed the problem when Jose, who is in Brazil, requested a transcript.
“Our association is based on the integrity and honesty of all the schools that are members of the association,” Athletic Director Bob Burchard said. “It is the duty of each institution when they find out an error has been made to step forward and do all the processes that we can.”
The Cougars are looking at such disciplinary action as forfeiting all 27 games Jose played. The team went 28-8 and 14-0 in the America Midwest Conference last year. Jose, a forward, averaged 3.4 points and played 230 minutes of a possible 2,139.
“We truly don’t feel like this is a systemic problem,” Burchard said. “We have certified international students for some time. We felt like this is, without a question, an isolated incident, and we are going to take this opportunity to shore up some areas that we feel hurt us in the certifying of Ursulla.”
Burchard said communication is one of the areas the school will work on and a translated interview would have helped with this situation early.Jose spoke little to no English, and all interaction with her took place online. Mike Davis, the women’s basketball coach, said oral communication was initially not possible with Jose.
Burchard said recruiting international athletes is an issue in all athletic associations, and the NAIA studied international participation in athletics for about the past year.
“In our last (NAIA) convention, which was this past winter, we came up with a new nonresident student and eligibility gap form to try to verify as much information as we can possibly verify of international students,” Burchard said. “That form, though, will not be actually activated until 2005.”
Columbia College implemented these new forms immediately.
Testing coaches and assistants on NAIA eligibility rules each academic year, interviewing each player, whether on the phone or in person, who has a gap in his or her education before the college announces a signing are among other procedures being implemented.
Other procedures being implemented include testing coaches and assistants on NAIA eligibility rules each academic year; interviewing each player, whether on the phone or in person; examining who has a gap in his or her education before the college announces a signing.
The Cougars do not foresee any problems for future recruiting.
“We don’t expect it to tarnish anything in the future,” Davis said. “We expect to get back to work and that is that.”
Davis said each returning player has been contacted and they are surprised and disappointed.
“If you’re a competitor, you know what you’ve accomplished and what you haven’t accomplished and that’s not going to change that and we’ll talk and get ready for next year,” Davis said.