Editor's note: This is the eighth in a series of stories highlighting the top 10 local sports stories of 2018.

In May, the Garden City Community College volleyball team suffered severe KJCCC sanctions that included two years of reduced scholarships, a postseason ban and forfeited wins.

The sanctions stemmed from the housing of former Broncbuster Shaney Tiumalu during the summer of 2017 by former Athletic Director John Green, a violation of both NJCAA and KJCCC regulations.

Green resigned from his post in September, and facing a postseason ban in 2018, the Buster volleyball team went winless at 0-31.

The sanctions, and the fallout, make this The Telegram’s No. 3 local sports story of 2018.

Background

From sometime in mid-June to the end of July 2017, Tiumalu lived in Green’s house. Green, in a letter to the KJCCC, claimed he did not know the arrangement was a KJCCC violation.

His assertion was that he hired Tiumalu to “housesit” while Green was attending other college events and then on his “annual leave” from the college, according to a letter GCCC attorney Randy Grisell sent former KJCCC Commissioner Bryce Roderick.

At the time, the KJCCC did not allow colleges to provide free room and board to any student-athletes, as the conferences’ maximum scholarships allowed at the time were books and tuition.

Roderick told The Telegram that the letter did not sufficiently show that Green had not violated KJCCC rules, resulting in the sanctions.

In addition, NJCAA bylaws (C.4.), found on the NJCAA website, state that “housing arrangements of any type with any member of the athletic staff or any individuals representing the athletic interests of a member institution are not permitted.”

After the announcement of the sanctions, GCCC appealed the severity of the penalties, but the appeal was denied.

Impact

The full sanctions included forfeiting all 12 wins the Busters had in 2017, including the program’s first final four appearance in the Region VI tournament since 2012.

They also lost two scholarships for the 2018 season and two more in 2019.

They also were on probation in 2018, and former head coach Jacque Matula, who had resigned in February prior to the sanctions announcement, was suspended for two games if she were to return as a coach in the conference.

Key stats and figures

The Busters went winless in 2018, and after forfeiting the 2017 wins, the program technically has not won a match since 2016, when they went 6-28.

The 2017 season was the program’s most wins since 2012, and the second-most since 2007.

The GCCC volleyball program also technically went winless in 2009, thanks to a forfeiture of four matches due to sanctions.

KJCCC penalizes GCCC volleyball

Editor’s note: The following story, written by Telegram sports writer J. Levi Burnfin, first appeared in The Telegram’s MAy 16 edition and is re-published below.

The Garden City Community College volleyball program must forfeit all of its wins from the 2017 season, has had two scholarships taken away for each of the next two seasons and has been banned from the postseason for next season as a result of sanctions handed down by the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference.

KJCCC President Alysia Johnston told The Telegram Tuesday that the GCCC volleyball program was sanctioned May 9 after the college reported to the KJCCC that former Broncbuster volleyball player Shaney Tiumalu lived with GCCC Athletic Director John Green, free of charge, during the summer of 2017, which is a violation of KJCCC and NJCAA rules.

Tiumalu lived at Green’s house from sometime in mid-June to the end of July 2017, both Tiumalu, who spoke with The Telegram in an interview on May 9, and GCCC attorney Randy Grisell agree.

However, Grisell claimed in a letter to KJCCC Commissioner Bryce Roderick on May 9, prior to the conference sanctioning the college, that Green did not know he was violating any KJCCC regulation. Grisell provided a copy of the letter to The Telegram.

NJCAA bylaws (C.4.), found on the NJCAA website, state that “housing arrangements of any type with any member of the athletic staff or any individuals representing the athletic interests of a member institution are not permitted.”

The KJCCC and its member institutions, including GCCC, must adhere to NJCAA bylaws. In addition, the KJCCC commissioner said the sanctions were based on providing room and board for a student-athlete free of charge, which is not allowed in the KJCCC. The Jayhawk Conference only allows scholarships for books and tuition across all sports.

Green declined comment, and as of Tuesday night, GCCC had not publicly announced the sanctions.

GCCC will have to forfeit its 12 wins from 2017, including seven conference matches. The Busters lose two volleyball scholarships for the 2018 and 2019 seasons, and the program will be on probation for 2018, resulting in a postseason ban.

When reached for comment Tuesday, Tiumalu’s attorney, Jean Lamfers, voiced disapproval of the sanctions process.

“This is my personal opinion, for what it’s worth,” she said. “Isn’t it ironic? The way the (KJCCC) metes out punishment harms the student-athletes, tarnishing their college experience, while the administrators who devised the ruse in the first place are not sanctioned, and they are still employed. What a poor example the leadership sets for its student-athletes and its alumni. Shame on them.”

However, Grisell said Tuesday that the college “may take issue with the severity of the sanctions imposed by the conference commissioner.” He said that the college may appeal.

Grisell outlined the college’s concerns in a letter sent to Roderick on May 9. Roderick said that it was his opinion that the letter did not show that the college had not violated KJCCC rules.

Grisell wrote in the letter that Green intended to hire Tiumalu to “housesit” while Green was in Casper, Wyo., for the College National Finals Rodeo June 11 through 16, 2017, and also while he was on “annual leave” from the college through the end of June.

Grisell said it was an offer for Tiumalu to stay at Green’s house during that time.

Lamfers denied this claim by the college.

“She was instructed that’s what she was going to do, and she was told to tell anybody who asked that she was staying with Jami Kilgore,” Lamfers said, referring to the president of the Broncbuster Athletic Association.

Kilgore could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

According to Grisell’s letter to the KJCCC, neither Green nor GCCC President Herbert Swender attempted to “conceal the living arrangement.”

Tiumalu has claimed that Swender knew she was staying in Green’s house, even coming to the house while Tiumalu was there once.

Grisell also wrote in the letter that Green was diagnosed with a severe infection on the back of his neck while in Casper, and he returned to Garden City on June 16, 2017, and was admitted to St. Catherine Hospital for seven days.

Upon being dismissed from the hospital, Grisell wrote, Green contacted then GCCC head volleyball coach Jacque Matula to see if Tiumalu would continue to stay at Green’s house and assist him during his recovery period.

Matula did not return a phone call Tuesday seeking comment.

“Green was only released from the hospital if he had supervision and monitoring at home, 24 hours a day, until cleared by his attending surgeon/physician,” Grisell wrote in the letter.

Lamfers has denied that Tiumalu was asked to care for Green.

“If he thought she was going to provide that — no,” Lamfers said.

An additional sanction of a two-game suspension was levied against Matula, if she was still the head coach of GCCC. However, Matula resigned in February, and her assistant, Casie Lowden, was promoted. A phone call to Lowden on Tuesday was also not returned.

 

Contact Levi Burnfin at lburnfin@gctelegram.com.