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Tuesday, October 20, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sources: North Idaho men’s basketball team faces severe sanctions for alleged NWAC violations

UPDATED: Mon., Aug. 12, 2019

The Northwest Athletic Conference recently handed down sanctions to the North Idaho College men’s basketball program for a violation of the league’s bylaws.

Conference executive director Marco Azurdia said NIC has appealed the punishment.

Azurdia didn’t specify the athletic program that was under investigation by the league or its alleged violations. But multiple sources close to the situation who asked to remain anonymous said the highly successful men’s basketball team used booster club funds to pay for student-athlete housing, a violation of NWAC rules.

The NWAC began its investigation of NIC in April, after receiving an anonymous complaint.

Because of the appeal, the NWAC cannot disclose details of the case until its absolute conclusion, per the league’s codebook, but sources told The Spokesman-Review that the team faces potential forfeits of past wins and a future postseason ban.

In a staff memo sent to NIC faculty in June, NIC president Rick MacLennan called the NWAC’s sanctions “excessive” and said they “will have a negative impact on former, current and future NIC student-athletes.”

NIC (31-2) cruised to a NWAC Tournament championship last season, winning by an average of 32 points. The Cardinals boast a record of 81-15 since joining the NWAC in 2016 after decades in the National Junior College Athletic Association.

The Cardinals joined the NWAC as a cost-saving measure.

A decision on the appeal was expected Thursday at NWAC headquarters in Vancouver, Washington, but Azurdia said Friday that he expects a conclusion by Tuesday.

NIC athletic director Al Williams and men’s basketball coach Corey Symons did not respond to messages seeking comment.

NWAC student-athletes can receive no more than 65% in tuition scholarship, according to the NWAC codebook.

When NIC was a NJCAA member, it could give several full-ride scholarships – tuition, room and board – with money raised by the NIC booster club, which helped pool the scholarship money from events and fundraisers.

Full-ride scholarships helped the Cardinals attract high-level talent as an NJCAA member, many of whom went on to play at NCAA Division I programs, a resource that, before joining the NWAC, separated the Cardinals from nearby NWAC members like Community Colleges of Spokane.

The Coeur d’Alene Shootout, one of the region’s largest 3-on-3 basketball tournaments since its 1992 inception, has annually been played on NIC’s campus and been operated by the NIC Booster Club, with its proceeds going to the school’s athletic department.

NIC recently announced the cancellation of the 2019 Coeur d’Alene Shootout – played in early August – due to a “number of factors, including our desire to focus on further developing plans and programs to build on the success of our student athletes in the classroom and in their respective sports,” the school said on its website.

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