Williams: NCAA rules overlook club sports' needs

As leaves start to change and temperatures drop, thousands of students transform into college football fanatics.

They're obsessed, but as a student at a small liberal arts school without a football field in sight, I couldn't care less. What does concern me, however, is the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the governing body that controls all levels of collegiate sports.

The NCAA technically exists to help student athletes and keep college sports fair. In doing so, it somehow manages to overlook blatantly criminal activities - the NCAA allowed Jeremiah Masoli, a convicted felon and the starting quarterback at the University of Mississippi, to transfer schools in order to avoid sanctions - while simultaneously using the threat of debilitating sanctions to micromanage athletic departments and aspiring athletes.

One could write a novel about questionable NCAA policies, but my personal sore spot is club sports. Club sports are a wonderful opportunity for athletes to participate in their sport of choice at a competitive level without the commitment associated with varsity athletics.

According to the NCAA, a club sport has to comply with NCAA regulations if a school has a corresponding varsity team. This means that the school is responsible for tracking each club player's eligibility and financial aid, a daunting task that is the justification behind the Geneseo rule that bans all club sports with a varsity counterpart.

For the significant number of Geneseo students who are interested in club sports, this has serious ramifications because Geneseo does not have the staff or resources to process every club player like a varsity athlete. We barely have enough manpower to maintain an acceptable level of academic excellence; there's no way we could justify devoting time to the endless reports and necessary paperwork associated with expanding our athletic department.

This rule gives no consideration to small schools with small budgets. Geneseo club sports are already lower than low on the resource food chain; this just further insults all of the athletes who are competitive but unable or unwilling to commit to the varsity level. To make things worse, there isn't much we can do as individual athletes or even as a school; the NCAA is simply too big for us to handle.

What does need to be addressed, however, is the fact that it took an entire semester to figure out that it was not a school rule that made it impossible for me and other students to start a club team but rather, NCAA policy. When our proposed club volleyball team was snuffed out, it was a bureaucratic nightmare mainly because the athletic department - the natural choice for advice on athletic matters - was totally useless throughout the entire process. Harsh? Yes, but there is absolutely no reason that it took numerous meetings and hours of reading the NCAA handbook (not fun) to find the one simple clause that made our goal unreachable.

Although its ineptness had no bearing on the ultimate outcome, I have yet to understand why the athletic department chose to dismiss an entire group of student athletes when it would have taken five minutes to explain the reasoning behind the school's policy. The true blame here, however, lies with the hypocrisy and inconsideration of the NCAA.