Craig’s CNCC board feeling disconnected from main campus leadership as soccer team poised to move southwest to Rangely campus
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to accurately reflect the current and future location of the CNCC women’s soccer team, which has also been in Craig but will also be moving to Rangely with the men’s team.
Tensions were high at Colorado Northwestern Community College’s monthly meeting with the Moffat County Affiliated Junior College District Board, as some board members indicated frustration with a history of what they considered to be lack of communication between the Craig campus and the main campus in Rangely.
This month, the board discussed the decision to move CNCC’s soccer teams — which have been housed at the Craig campus since 2016 — to the Rangely campus. That decision, Moffat County board members expressed, came without warning to the local board.
But the school’s new president said moves like this are critical to delivering on the college’s larger promises to Craig and other communities it serves — a promise she said they were currently failing to meet.
Currently, every other sport at CNCC plays and practices at the Rangely campus. Much of the athletics support is in Rangely, as well. This, among other reasons, is why the team is moving. According to a spokesperson for the college, necessary services and facilities are already in place to help take care of student athletes in Rangely, and there have been concerns from parents and students around the soccer athlete’s safety and wellbeing.
Dr. Lisa Jones, president of CNCC, echoed these concerns at Wednesday’s meeting.
“I’ve worked with athletic programs (for decades). I know them in and out,” Jones said. “I also know what parents expect, and I certainly know what our parents expect in terms of soccer. And it wasn’t what they’re getting. I think that we owe our students a lot better than to force an experience. That is not a holistic, positive experience. We owe them better.”
Jones added that the resources that were given to the men’s and women’s soccer teams can be used in other areas of CNCC’s Craig campus. She said that moving the teams was a decision that took time and consideration from multiple parties, and moving those funds to cover other portions of student life will benefit both the athletes and students in Moffat County.
“We do look at the fact that we have gotten $175,000 that we are lopsided on (soccer),” Jones said. “That could be spent on our academic enterprise that, right now, is woefully underfunded. I’ve said this a number of times: we’ve got a program here where we don’t have a full-time faculty member. Higher Learning Commission is going to barbecue us if we don’t fix that. We could have been doing BSN (bachelor’s of science in nursing), but we can’t do a BSN until we get a doctoral nurse. The only way to do that is to be able to afford one; they don’t come cheap.”
However, members of the MCAJCD board expressed concerns about feeling excluded from that decision. Board member Terry Carwile argued that while the Moffat County board was involved in the decision to bring the team to Craig in 2016, he felt that the board should have had more communication about the decision to remove the team.
“Going back a few years, to 2016, when we were first approached by the college for support for a soccer team on this campus, we agreed. And we ponied up (approximately $247,000 over a three-year period),” Carwile said. “It’s difficult for me to reconcile us not having a role in this discussion when we were the ones who were originally approached to introduce the presence of this team in Craig.”
Board member Lois Wymore said she had received several calls from community members about the team’s move, and when called, Wymore said that the termination of the Vice President of the Craig Campus position also was a concern of underrepresentation. However, that position was intended to serve as a representative of CNCC’s cabinet as a whole, not necessarily only the Craig campus, Jones said.
“What it looks like to our public is they no longer have a voice in what happens at CNCC,” Wymore said. “(Board members are) not in a very good position to sell (the decision to move the team). None of us knew this was happening. So if we would have known, this is what you’re talking about, we could have made your filtered complaints or the questions about it.”
Kirstie McPherson, board president, said that though she agrees with the decision to move the team, she hopes that in the future, there would be better communication to the Moffat County board moving forward.
“I think that the bigger thing — what we have talked about as far as a board before in the past — is there needs to be a better conversation with the board, because we’re always going to be the first people that are called (by community members),” McPherson said.
To close the discussion about the soccer team, Jones said she welcomed and appreciated push back, saying that it showed that board members and the community paid attention and cared about what happens at CNCC.
“Right now, my job is to try to look at further stabilization,” Jones said. “And then (I’m) ensuring that we’ve got an infrastructure that we can work from, for our enrollment in all three facets of the three-legged stool: transfers, CTE (career technical education) and workforce. We are woefully underserving our community in all three areas. This is the biggest community of all three that we serve, and we’ve got less here.”
Next month’s meeting is scheduled for Oct. 18.
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