NIC loses a battle but is winning war

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Some North Idaho College fans are calling for the president’s head. In the wake of severe sanctions delivered by the Northwest Athletic Conference as reported by The Press this week, there’s clamoring aplenty for the removal, kicking and screaming, if necessary, of select NIC officials with oversight of the athletic program.

And as you’ll see on the Local section front today, several powerful boosters are putting their muscle behind NIC going back to its previous conference affiliation, one they view as more compatible with the college’s sports mission and stature.

It isn’t often that going back turns into a step forward, but perhaps this is one of those exceptions. Regardless, now is clearly a time to consider all options — but also to avoid dangerous knee-jerk reactions.

Our view of the ton o’bricks coming down on NIC athletics’ head is probably more positive than some. While the penalties outlined appear to outweigh the alleged crimes (also see Steve Cameron’s Cheap Seats column today in Sports), we believe some good will come from the investigation and fairly open airing of sins.

Well before Athletic Director Al Williams took the department helm, the college’s booster club played a key role in doing what it’s supposed to do: Raise funds for and help support the program. Compared to major universities where out-of-control boosters and nefarious characters can run afoul of NCAA rules and, in egregious cases, federal laws, NIC hardly merits a blip on the big boy radar screen — NWAC’S full-court press notwithstanding. But that doesn’t mean there’s no room for improvement.

NIC officials and booster club leaders now have a clear path to above-board cooperation, understanding what methods or processes of the past need to be discontinued and where energy and emphasis need to be placed going forward. What they must avoid is appointing scapegoats and taking out their frustrations on them.

We’re talking specifically about Williams, who has served his alma mater (’79 NIC grad) capably for more than a decade and a half, and men’s head basketball coach Corey Symons, who faces a 10-game suspension this coming season.

Both are well known and deeply respected in the community. They have done remarkable jobs not just working with NIC’s student-athletes, but in building bridges with many people who will never donate a penny to NIC or attend a basketball game.

In short, they’re both good guys whose bodies of work speak for themselves. Had they been flagrantly cheating to gain advantages that would make them rich and/or famous, we’d be singing a different tune. In this case, there’s no reason to bring down the house. A little bit of tidying up will do.

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