Ineligible players lead to forfeits

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Ineligible players recruited from New York City caused the Southwestern College men’s basketball team to forfeit eight games this year, including four wins that could have allowed it to win the division. Two players paying out-of-state tuition dropped classes and became ineligible for intercollegiate sports, but continued playing before Dean of Health and Exercise Science Terry Davis pulled the plugs on their seasons. A third player, from San Ysidro, was also ruled ineligible.

Keenan Langston and David Warren said they were recruited by SWC’s associate basketball coach Kyle Colwell last year after he saw them play in a high school game in Brooklyn. Langston said Colwell had traveled to New York to recruit him and was also impressed by Warren, a player on the other team.

“Coach Kyle came to New York to watch Keenan play,” said Warren. “It just so happens that the day he came to watch him play, I was playing against him and he liked the way I played. He asked me to come (to Southwestern College) too.”

Langston said he could not afford the out-of-state tuition he had to pay.

“I was dropped from two classes and it was too late to add new classes and our tuition didn’t pay for them,” said Langston. “This is how the coaches explained it to me. I really don’t know but they said since we’re from New York, we’re not California residents. We haven’t been here a year, so tuition is expensive. That’s how they explained it to me.”

Warren was also ruled ineligible due to lack of units. Intercollegiate athletes are required to be enrolled in 12 academic units during the semesters they compete. Warren was dropped from one class as a “no show.” Langston was dropped from two classes for nonpayment of fees.

Southwestern end the season at 12-14 instead of 16-10 due to the infractions, which occurred in games played between January 11 and February 8.

A spokesperson for the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference, Southwestern’s athletic league, said that community college coaches in this region are not allowed to recruit players from outside their districts much less out of state. SWC athletic secretary Peggy Ball concurred.

“Southwestern College is only allowed to recruit within its district and any high schools that touch that district,” Ball said. “For example, south of us would be San Ysidro. East of us is Grossmont and north is San Diego. West, well, there is no west because there’s only ocean. These recruitment boundaries are called the continuous recruitment area.”

Ball said the rules are strict and Southwestern coaches may not call on players from North County or East County. For a player outside of the area to be recruited, Ball said, the student must make the first contact with either the college or a coach. The operating philosophy is “Players recruit the college, not the other way around.”

Langston and Warren said they did not reach out to Southwestern College and were recruited by Colwell. Langston said he had never heard of Colwell or Southwestern College until Colwell walked over and introduced himself after a game.

Colwell and head basketball coach John Cosentino talked about the situation but asked that their comments not be used on the record.

Davis said he took full responsibility for the situation.

“I’m the person that’s supposed to be at the end of the line to watch and make sure,” he said. “We talked to the schools that we had the wins against, which was four schools, and let them know what had transpired. Our fault. Our responsibility. On the schedule now it says four forfeits, which also shows people that, hey, we recognize that we didn’t do something right.”

Davis said the athletic department is supposed to carefully monitor eligibility.

“We’re required every week to check every student’s record to make sure that they are enrolled in enough units. The communication process failed. They weren’t eligible to play, but they got a chance to play.”

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