Jayhawk Conference eliminates its roster, scholarship limits

The Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference announced on Thursday that it has unanimously voted to eliminate limits on the number of athletic scholarships allowed and how many can be given to out-of-state students, ending 50 years of roster and scholarship limits in the conference.

Beginning with the 2017-18 season, the KJCCC will allow its schools to compete at the Division I or Division II level in the National Junior College Athletic Association and will follow NJCAA roster limits for all sports, ending any out-of-state and roster limitations.

Another bylaw change was also passed, beginning with the 2018-19 season, which will allow schools to grant full-ride scholarships in Division I sports. That change will require a a new bylaw to be passed at the spring KJCC meeting in April 2017; if not, the rule revert to the previous scholarship limits beginning in 2020.

The special meeting held at Butler was called to address the issues raised last week when eight schools threatened to leave the 19-member Jayhawk Conference over concerns for the conference’s limitations. The eight schools threatened to leave the Jayhawk Conference if the rules weren’t changed.

Current Jayhawk rules limit football programs to 63 scholarships, while NJCAA rules allow 85. Jayhawk schools were limited to 20 out-of-state scholarship players.

“I think calmer heads prevailed and we got some very positive dialogue here,” Jayhawk president Mike Calvert said after Thursday’s meeting. “Of course not everyone is going to be 100 percent pleased. We still have work to do, but I know everyone is pleased we’re going to be moving forward together as a conference.”

The conference was never in danger of dissolving, Calvert said, but he said it was important to come to an agreement on Thursday.

Between now and the April meeting, Calvert said the conference will study how the new bylaws will affect spending.

“We wanted to ensure that we are competitive nationally in all sports,” Calvert said. “I think this now allows schools at the local level to invest in what they want to invest in and still maintain the Jayhawk Conference.”

When asked if the decision twas bad for Kansas high school football players, Calvert said not necessarily.

He said that scholarship funds for out-of-state players must be privately raised by either booster clubs or foundations, and wouldn’t take from the money for Kansas scholarships.

“We’re not taking any money away from Kansas kids,” Calvert said. “So if a school wants to go with more out-of-state players and give bigger scholarships, then that just means they’re going to have to raise more money or else that’s going to limit the number of out-of-state kids you bring in.”