Garden City Community College head football coach Jeff Sims and 49 players reportedly from schools throughout the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference have filed formal complaints with the Kansas state NAACP office regarding what Sims calls the discriminatory nature of the KJCCC out-of-state football player roster limit.
The conference limits out-of-state players to just 20 active roster spots on a team’s 63-man roster. If all 20 out-of-state spots on the roster are filled, the rest of the 43 players must be filled with Kansas athletes.
NAACP representative Eric Pettus confirmed Sims had filed a complaint on Saturday, as well as 49 players that are “reporting to be players at community colleges in the conference.” Pettus — who became aware of all of the complaints Saturday — could not confirm the exact number of players from each institution, but said “several” are GCCC players.
“I know what I’m hoping to accomplish is to remove a discriminatory rule that was set in 1962,” Sims said Monday. “From day one, we’ve presented the same argument.”
Sims and GCCC’s athletic director John Green spearheaded a proposal to remove out-of-state restrictions on football that was eventually rejected by a 9-8 margin Aug. 4 during the KJCCC president’s meeting in Pratt.
“The rule is discriminatory,” Sims said previously. “There’s no way around it. 1962 was when the rule was put into place. The rule was put into place to limit the number of African-Americans who come to these small towns. Period. And I’m not proud to be part of a rule like that.”
During the president’s meeting, Sims continued that argument, offering a 38-page handout obtained recently by The Telegram detailing the reasons he believes the conference should eliminate any limitation on football rosters. In that handout, he refers to a “gentlemen’s agreement” in which “Community colleges did not actively recruit out of state student-athletes, specifically minority student-athletes.”
In the handout presented at the meeting, Sims also claims that schools agreed to two “colored players per program,” with a fine of $25 for each additional African-American player.
In previous interviews, Sims said he learned that information from former Coffeyville coach Bill Mills, whose tenure was in the early 1960s. Several recent telephone calls to Mills have not been returned.
That claim led Sims to file the formal complaint with the NAACP.
“I’ll complain to every department in America, and if there’s nothing wrong with the rule, then there’s nothing to be worried about,” Sims said about any potential critics of filing a complaint.
Pettus, an NAACP volunteer representative who works as the organization’s legal redress, said the complaints have been referred to the NAACP national office. The legal department, Pettus said, is now reviewing them.
Pettus said he believes the complaints have merit.
“We know it stems from a discriminatory practice that came out during the desegregation of schools,” Pettus, who owns a financial consultant company in Florida, said.
The rule, put into place in 1962, came eight years after the Brown v. Board of Education decision, which forced the desegregation of schools across the country.
After the national office reviews the complaint, Pettus said, further legal options will be explored.
For the full 38-page document circulated by Sims at the KJCCC president’s meeting, visit story on GCTelegram.com.