COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — North Idaho College has been ordered to vacate their 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 Northwest Athletic Conference men's basketball titles after their appeal of three rules violations was denied.
In addition to vacating the titles, the NIC men's basketball team will be banned for three season from participating in postseason play from 2020-2022. Also, head coach Corey Symons is suspended for the first ten games of the upcoming season and the program will face a reduction in "grant-in-aid" for three years beginning in 2020, according to a NWAC release.
NIC will also be on probation for the next three years, and the NIC Athletic Director Al Williams cannot serve on the NWAC Executive Board during the probation, according to the NWAC release. NIC must also pay a fine.
The penalties come for three violations, which include using booster club funds to pay for housing for basketball players, using booster club funds for player entertainment and food, and running basketball camps that do not comply with NWAC guidelines, according to the NWAC violation notice letter.
In a statement released Tuesday, NIC President Rick MacLennan accepted the decision and took responsibility for the violations.
The statement reads in full:
"We have come to the conclusion of our appeal process to the NWAC and while the Executive Board thanked us for the changes we have already implemented within our athletics department (prior to and after the investigation), and our commitment to compliance, NWAC has affirmed the findings of its investigation and our appeal was largely unsuccessful.
As I indicated in an earlier college-wide communication, I accept responsibility for the practices and behaviors that have led us to this place with the league. The college will agree to the sanctions NWAC has placed on NIC, and I am committed, as is VP Graydon Stanley, to working with the league and its member institutions to foster a positive and collegial future for us all.
Ultimately, our commitment is centered on creating the best student-athlete experience possible, while ensuring that NWAC codebook compliance is an embedded focus for our institution, and that we move forward in partnership with NWAC as we compete fairly and act honorably."
Christie Wood, Chairman of the NIC Board, released a statement standing by the college's leadership.
“The board of trustees continues to show full confidence in college leadership as they navigate the findings of the NWAC investigation, the appeal and the sanctions," Wood said. "We support the president as he looks at all our options to move our athletics program forward to preserve the best experience for our students and look out for the best interest of North Idaho College."