A potential dismantling of the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference and negotiating behind closed doors has created new rules for the athletic conference, beginning next season.
At a meeting in Hays on Thursday, the presidents of the 19 schools who make up the KJCCC voted 19-0 to change two bylaws.
The first states is conference schools will operate under NJCAA rules for Division I or Division II sports beginning with the 2017-18 academic year. The change means all schools and athletic teams will abide by NJCAA scholarship and roster limitations.
Currently, football teams are limited to 63 scholarships, 20 from outside of Kansas. The change would allow rosters to go to 85, with no limitations on out-of-state students.
In baseball, a change will allow rosters to expand to 75 from the conference limit of 35. The current volleyball roster limitation is 15.
"This change helps all our teams," said Dodge City Community College athletic director Casey Malek. "It allows us to accept — not reject — a local kid who wants to continue sports or a transfer who needs another year to get stronger.
"That doesn’t mean we’re going to have 40 players on the volleyball team, but it means we can have 17, 18 or 19."
The second change to the conference bylaws allows full-ride scholarships in Division I sports, aligning with NJCAA guidelines.
"There will be a president’s meeting in April where they will try to come up with an agreement on the number of full-ride scholarships that can be offered per sport," Malek said. "If no agreement is made, scholarship limitations will revert back to the conference limitations beginning in 2020.
"Full rides will be offered by schools."
The meeting in Hays was the culmination of several schools seeking changes to bylaws. Two previous attempts to change Jayhawk Conference rules failed in August. The first was an attempt to raise out-of-state scholarships from 20 to 30 with the extra 10 coming from states bordering Kansas.
The second proposal would have lifted out-of-state restrictions for football, soccer and golf.
The NJCAA has no out-of-state limitations.
Reportedly, eight schools — Coffeyville, Cloud County, Cowley, Dodge City, Garden City, Independence and Seward — filed notices with KJCCC they would listen to offers to join other conferences.
Jayhawk Conference commissioner Bryce Roderick told the Wichita Eagle the eight schools were threatening to leave the conference if the changes were not made.
Malek took issue with Roderick’s comments to the Eagle.
"That’s false," Malek said last week. "We informed the conference we would be listening to proposals and opportunities, which we have to do by conference bylaws.
"We are listening, but we never threatened or issued an ultimatum to the conference."
Roderick, talking with the Daily Globe last week, said said many proposals about rosters, scholarships and other changes have been made in the past few years.
"If these schools do leave, it could be catastrophic for football," Roderick said. "The best thing is to keep all our schools together."
The school presidents agreed. The meeting was originally scheduled for Wednesday, but was pushed back to Thursday as discussions continued.
"The meeting consisted of positive dialogue that resulted in unanimous support, proving the conference is united and moving forward together," said Dr. Mike Calvert, president of the KJCCC in a press release.
Malek said the new rules will not change much for DCCC.
"We’re staying in Division I and we’re excited," he said. "This is what we wanted, to cut back on roster limitations.
"It’s a good move and the conference stays together."