Basketball players come from outside district

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In Matthew 13:57 Jesus is quoted as saying “Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor.”

Basketball players who went to high school in the boundaries of the Southwestern Community College District may know the feeling. It may be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a Sweetwater Union High School District basketball player to make the team at Southwestern College. There is a good chance an out-of-state transfer is taking the spot on the roster.

California community colleges in general have a high rate of out-of-district basketball players, and SWC has one of the highest rates of all over the past seven years, double the state average. In 2007-08, for instance, not a single local player made the SWC roster.

Allegations of illegal recruiting by SWC basketball coaches surfaced in February when three players – two of whom were from New York – were declared academically ineligible, causing the Jaguars to forfeit four wins. Former basketball players Keenan Langston and David Warren both said they were actively recruited in New York by SWC associate basketball coach Kyle Colwell. Coach Colwell has refused to speak to The Sun about the charges, but denied them in an interview with a Pacific Coast Athletic Conference (PCAC) investigator in June. The Sun, invoking the California Public Records Act, acquired a summary of the investigation this fall.

Langston, Warren and Langston’s father have stuck to their allegations during recent telephone interviews and insist the two Brooklyn high school players were recruited by Colwell. They signed First Contact statements that they were not illegally recruited, but several months after their New York meeting with Colwell, they both said. A number of other former SWC players have made similar claims of being recruiting, but said they are afraid to speak on the record for fear of reprisals.

PCAC Commissioner John Woods said the number of out-of-state athletes in California community college athletics is increasing.

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“The number of out-of-state athletes in the California community college system is growing each year,” he said. “With the number of California Community Colleges competing in athletics (104) we are a destination for a large number of out-of-state student athletes. If you look at other California community colleges you will find they participate in nearly every sport. The Southwestern basketball program is not unlike a large number of other men’s and women’s basketball programs statewide.”

Over the past seven years, however, Southwestern College has exceeded state averages, often doubling or tripling them. Since 2005 only 22 percent of SWC’s men’s basketball players attended high school in the Sweetwater District, according to a California Community College Athletic Association Out-of-State High School Student Athlete Report acquired by The Sun. Out-of-district transfer students made up 78 percent of the SWC teams and out-of-state players added up to 34 percent of the teams, twice the state average of 17 percent out-of-state players in 2011-12. SWC’s roster featured 28 percent out-of-state players last season, which was actually the lowest amount of the past seven years. SWC teams generally consist of half out-of-state players or more.

Woods said he believed the June investigation was sufficiently thorough and that there was not enough evidence to prove that illegal recruiting took place. SWC Vice President of Academic Affairs Kathy Tyner said she believes it is appropriate to allow the PCAC to investigate charges of illegal recruiting. SWC Superintendent Dr. Melinda Nish said she has spoken to Tyner about the situation, but not Athletic Director Terry Davis.

Basketball coaches John Cosentino and Colwell have refused all comment on allegations of recruiting violations. Athletic director Davis has told journalism professor Dr. Max Branscomb that he does not believe the allegations, but he refused to be interviewed for this story by journalism students.

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