GRAPEVINE, Texas — In a narrow vote of 138 for and 141 against, the NCAA Division II delegates opted not to extend to Mexican colleges the same invitation to begin the application for membership process that had been given to Canada in 2008. The vote centered on whether prospective Mexican colleges could be grandfathered in or whether they would have to meet the fast-approaching February deadline.
“There’s been a lot of stuff about Mexico in the news, and I think some people were uneasy about that,” said Bob Boerigter, commissioner of the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association and incoming chair of the Management Council. The vote came during the business session on the last day of the NCAA’s annual meeting last Saturday. When the tally of the anonymous balloting was posted, a noisy outburst erupted.
“There really wasn’t that much discussion on the floor, so it’s kind of hard to understand what the logic was in voting no,” said Pat O’Brien, Presidents Council chair and president of West Texas A&M. “My guess is a lot of individuals don’t necessarily see the benefits that would derive for, say, the Lone Star Conference or schools that are located in the Southwest. And if they don’t see the value for them, they vote no.”
“[The vote] just goes to show you that we still have long, long way to go in terms of race relations in this country,” said F. Javier Cevallos, president of Kutztown University in Pennsylvania and one of only handful of Hispanic presidents of majority institutions in America. “I couldn’t believe the results of the vote.”
For the past several years, the NCAA has attempted to broaden it’s appeal to underrepresented minority groups. Some attendees expressed fear that this vote is going to reinforce the idea that rank and file members had not fully adapted to the diversity and inclusion agenda.
While the vote effectively precludes the application process from moving forward, now there may be alternatives in the future.
“I think that all can be worked out,” said O’Brien. “Maybe we need to figure out a way in which the NCAA can help facilitate with the government getting visas for international students, so we can have international travel.”
In the meantime, Lone Star Commissioner Stan Wagnon reiterated to Monterrey Mexico Tech officials the conference’s hope that they will accept an offer to play in the Lone Star‘s Football Festival at Cowboys Stadium in September.
“That could be a significant opportunity for our conference, and perhaps all of Division II, to get a close-up look and become more familiar with the institution, it’s operating procedures and its competitive abilities,” said Wagnon, who acknowledged that two LSC schools voted against the proposal.
Under Division II rules, the entire membership process would take at least 10 years to complete.