KJCCC penalizes GCCC volleyball

Former athlete lived with AD John Green for summer, violating NJCAA rules

J. Levi Burnfin
Garden City Community College's Shaney Tiumalu blocks a Butler shot back to the Grizzlies' side for a point during a match in 2016 at Perryman Athletic Complex. [BRAD NADING/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER]

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.