AIHEC Athletic Commission Created

May 15th, 2004 | By | Category: 15-4: Ancient Cultures Modern Technology, Tribal College News

The American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) has established an AIHEC Athletic Commission to oversee AIHEC-sponsored athletic events and resolve conflicts. The AIHEC board appointed the nine commissioners for three-year terms. The AIHEC Athletic Committee composed of tribal college presidents develops policies and procedures for the commission.

The board took the action because of controversies in the past about which teams should be eligible to compete, the length of games, and about whether part-time students can compete, according to Dr. Joe McDonald, chair of the committee and president of Salish Kootenai College. Although they followed the generally accepted rules for the game in the past, the college hosting the basketball tournament set the rules for eligibility each year.

The board of directors voted in October 2003 to establish the commission, saying, “Tribal colleges and universities endorse the value of athletics as part of a holistic education program.” In language unusual to the world of college athletics, the board resolution said, “AIHEC-sanctioned athletic competition is a privilege with academics acknowledged as a first priority for our students.”

The requirements specify that a student athlete must be enrolled in a minimum of nine semester or quarter credits as a freshman, a fulltime student, have at least a cumulative 2.0 GPA, and be making satisfactory progress toward a degree. The only requirement for teams is that the college must have paid its dues.

Unlike mainstream community colleges and universities, most tribal colleges do not have facilities for intercollegiate athletics such as gymnasiums or football fields. Nor do they have money for uniforms, referees, activities directors, and coaches.

Despite such limitations, some of the tribal colleges have ranked high in regional and sometimes national competitions, including Southwest Indian Polytechnic Institute in cross country, Diné College in archery, and United Tribes Technical College in basketball.

AIHEC has sponsored basketball tournaments for 22 years. In the past only basketball and cross country have been AIHEC-sanctioned sports. Now anyone proposing a national AIHEC competition in any sport must have approval by the athletic committee.

For a copy of the athletic competitive polices and guidelines, contact Deborah His Horse is Thunder at AIHEC. Email DHishorseisthunder@aihec.org or call (703) 838-0400.

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