JCCC alumni fight to keep school's track program

Posted at 9:54 PM, Jan 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-17 23:17:42-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Several Johnson County Community College alumni are fighting to keep the school's track and cross country program.

JCCC announced it would end its 32-year-old program after this spring season.

"There's a lot of sadness, there's anger, there's confusion. You wonder why you have a successful program like they have here for over three decades," said Nick Cole, an alum who ran track for the college in 2004.

Cole and some of his old teammates have formed a group to protest the school's decision. They even created the website to amass support.

"It's the only junior college program in the KC-Metro area where kids can go to run cross country and track," said Cole.

41 Action News spoke with Chris Gray, a spokesman for JCCC. He said ending the program was a "tough budgetary decision" made over a year ago.

According to the school, a rule was changed by the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference that allows community colleges to give more in scholarships to student-athletes.

In order to be competitive with its sports, JCCC said it would have to increase its budget by $250,000.

"A big thing is Title IX. If you cut down, let's say a volleyball program, it has to be both equal in the number of men and women sports. Track and cross country was that duel men's and women's," said Gray.

Cole and other alumni worry about the consequences that will result if the program ends. High school track coaches in the metro have also voiced concerns.

"It's one less opportunity that we have for some of our high school athletes," said J.J. Wannamaker, the track coach for Shawnee Mission South. "This year I've got a handful of kids that Johnson County would be a perfect fit for them."

The "Save JCCC Track" group said they will continue to fight to save the outdoor track and its program. They plan on attending the Board of Trustees meetings to make their voices heard and are planning on hosting a walk on the outdoor track in March.

The next board meeting is scheduled for Jan. 18 at 5 p.m. The meetings are open to the public.