Registering an athlete as an amateur with the NCAA is a simple task. It's a yes or no process that Wichita State's athletic department failed to complete with basketball player Clevin Hannah and baseball player Taylor Gilmore.
As a result, Hannah will miss three games, Gilmore will miss six and the NCAA hit WSU with a $5,000 fine. Athletic director Eric Sexton doesn't want to go through this episode again.
"We have instituted a number of new policies and procedures to ensure we can avoid these kinds of situations in the future," he said.
The damage is done, so WSU must salvage some lessons learned. Chief among them is that no athlete will be allowed to practice without their final certification paperwork.
"That's one trigger we didn't have in place," he said. "We are going to significantly enhance our educational efforts, particularly surrounding amateurism certification."
All junior-college transfers, a category that includes Hannah and Gilmore, will receive a checklist that includes all steps necessary, including amateurism, to be eligible.
"We're throwing the rest of our energy to how we can go forward and not have this happen," Sexton said.
Sexton said he would not discuss personnel matters related to the suspensions. Internally, many discussions are taking place.
"We are having those conversations, and that's part of the education process," he said. "There will be conversations with parties involved to ensure they understand this is something we cannot have happen in the future."
He also said it would be wrong to blame any single member of the athletic department staff.
"I would not pin it on one person," he said. "It was the process."
Sexton has not received the NCAA's rationale for its decision to deny WSU's appeal of the suspensions. WSU contended the athletes were blameless. The NCAA, Sexton said, is treating these cases in a uniform manner without considering the circumstances.
"That would be my guess, that they are going to be consistent after a particular date with these kinds of things," he said. "We fully acknowledge we made an administrative mistake. We rectified the situation as quickly as possible."
MTXE vs. Bradley — Haul out your MTXE shirts and towels. For one night, they are fashionable again.
WSU will celebrate that era of basketball under coach Gene Smithson on Jan. 3 with throwback uniforms and an invitation to coaches and players to return. The Shockers play Bradley in a Sunday afternoon game.
Smithson will be here, and he expects many of his players to join him.
"I'm very honored for them to have made this gesture to me and our players," he said. "We're hoping we can get as many of our former players as possible to be there."
Cheese Johnson, Xavier McDaniel and Cliff Levingston are expected to return. Some of the other big names from that era are possibilities.
Smithson is enjoying a reconnection with the university. He attended a game at Koch Arena during the 2007-08 season, his first since he was fired after the 1985-86 season. He said he talks with Marshall and is friends with athletic director Eric Sexton.
"We want to be there to support Gregg and the Shockers," he said.
Smithson coached WSU for eight seasons, using Mental Toughness, Xtra Effort as his slogan. WSU played in two NITs and two NCAA Tournaments during his tenure. He retired from coaching in 2003 and lives in Florida.
Rewarded — Volleyball player Kim Wadsworth is WSU's fall recipient of the Missouri Valley Conference Good Neighbor Award.
Wadsworth, a senior from Andover, carries a 3.5 grade-point average with a double major in business administration and biological sciences. She is also involved in programs such as WSU's Little Spikers and Junior Spikers, pen pals and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Each MVC school selects an athlete for the fall, winter and spring.
For help — Spilled nacho cheese in your row at Koch Arena? Broken seat? Need to return a basketball kicked into your row?
WSU wants to help fans who need assistance. Text "Koch," followed by a space, and your issue and location to 41513.
The program is new this year. Signs are posted throughout the arena with the number and instructions.
Worth noting — WSU's track and field program will hold three fundraisers in December and January — a winter banquet on Dec. 6 at Koch Arena, a chili dinner on Dec. 12 at Eck Stadium before the men's basketball game against TCU and barbecue dinner on Jan. 19 before a men's game against Northern Iowa. For information call 316-978-5262.... Former WSU cross country coach Wayne Angel resigned as men's track and field coach at Illinois on Thursday. Angel spent three seasons at WSU. He returned to Illinois, his alma mater, in 2003 after a brief tenure at Iowa.