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MW appeals athletics probation

WORTHINGTON —Minnesota West Community and Technical College president Richard Shrubb has formally appealed program-wide probation handed down by the governing conference.

Shrubb gave a counteroffer as an alternative and also recruited a familiar face to help create a vision as the college moves on from an incident last month.

Following an Oct. 26 state quarterfinal football game in Brainerd, an incident occurred between the Minnesota West and Central Lakes teams, as well as in the parking lot between some Bluejay players and opposing fans. In response, the Minnesota College Athletic Conference (MCAC) put the entire MW athletic program on probation.

“We took time to pause before I responded,” Shrubb said. “I had 10 days to respond; the 10th day would have been Sunday, so I responded on the eighth day. We took time to reflect on that, and we felt like probationary status for all programs was punishing people who weren’t involved in the Brainerd incident.

“My counter proposal to the MCAC was, 'Let's suspend football because it’s more specific action and let everybody else not be reprimanded or placed on probation in any way.”'

As part of moving forward, Shrubb has enlisted the services of former MW president Ron Wood to head an ad hoc committee designed to create recommendations for the funding and management of football.

“At first I wondered and I hesitated and then I went forward and said, 'Yes, this is something I can do,”' Wood said. “I got involved because I think it’s better to try to be proactive to solve a problem than it is to just complain in the press.”

Shrubb asked the MCAC to suspend the program for a period of time to allow for the review.

“First of all, the MCAC has not responded yet,” Shrubb said. “So they may say that’s a great idea or they may say it’s a terrible idea, I don’t know.

"My request is to suspend the program so that we can review it," Shrubb continued. "That would mean we could still have intramural football and things like that. If MCAC allows us to review our program, I don’t know if we can get it all done by next fall or if that would mean taking some time off.

"A lot depends on what we could come up with in Ron’s committee. I don’t want to rush the review, but I don’t want to delay it either. I’m not sure how long of a period we’re talking about, and that’s assuming MCAC allows us to suspend our program.”

According to MCAC Executive Committee President Steve Crittenden, the appeal and counteroffer has been received, but no decision has been made.

“I did receive President Shrubb’s appeal, and I have to take that information back to our executive committee and consult with our handbook on the proper protocol,” he said. “We will obviously try to get resolution to the situation as thoroughly and quickly as we can. I need to bring our executive committee team in to that discussion on our process and procedure.”

In a previous interview with the Daily Globe, Shrubb had asked for feedback. He received “abundant” response.

“I’m going to say pleasantly surprised,” Shrubb said. “It was quite a large volume. It’s good to know that people are connected to the college in a way that makes them reply to an invitation for feedback.”

However, Shrubb said, that needs to “convert sentiment into tangible support.” That’s where Wood’s involvement plays an important role.

“We both have a similar vision for not only quality in what we already have, but we’d like to expand,” Shrubb said. “I don’t want to say much about what I hope the outcome will be, other than a lot of participation in the committee because I don’t want to lead where the committee goes.”

So far, Wood said he hasn’t seen an official charge of the committee.

“My goal would be to see what went wrong, identify what went wrong, is it correctable and what are policies and procedures that would enhance the athletic program and for that matter, the student program,” Wood said.

Enhancing the student programs could include adding programs.

“We want to take a pause and study the program for effectiveness into the future. We want a program we can be proud of,” Shrubb said. “I’m really pleased that Ron has agreed to accept my invitation to head up a committee of people to look at programs. Ideally, I’d like to start soccer as well. It’s kind of a 'While you’re at it, let’s look at everything we’re doing for possible expansion.”'

Shrubb said he believes soccer would serve the Worthington and Nobles County area.

“I know there are pick-up games that take place on campus regularly. I’ll drive by and I’ll see pick-up games of soccer taking place,” Shrubb said. “Just based on that, I’m hoping there is available interest in starting a soccer team that would allow us to do that.”

Wood said he wants to create a collegewide plan going forward.

“I think the important thing is how do you strategically plan your athletic program?" Wood said. "What do you want your athletic program to look like? I have a personal view in terms of an athletic program that you want to make sure there is a strong benefit to the region. I can’t change what happened yesterday, but hopefully I can play a role in making it better tomorrow.”