School officials seek compromise from NWACC while Chemeketa player attempts to move on
By Emily Sisk photo by David Hallett
Nearly two months after the Chemeketa men’s basketball team was harshly penalized for violations, college officials and the Northwest Athletic Conference continue to negotiate the details of the league’s ruling.
The violations stemmed from the ineligible amateur status of player Keith Bowen Jr.
Although Chemeketa athletics officials maintained that they had no knowledge of Bowen’s infraction, all Storm wins with him participating were vacated, resulting in the loss of a division title and hopes of a championship.
Executive Dean David Hallett and Athletic Director Cassie Belmodis traveled to the NWACC office in Vancouver, Wash., on April 1 to speak directly to league officials.
In particular, the Chemeketa officials were interested in reducing or redacting the $1,000 fine that was levied against the college.
“It feels as if they want to use Chemeketa as an example by hitting us with a fine,” Hallett said via email. “A fine of $1,000 just seems unnecessary and excessive in this situation.”
After the meeting, Hallett said he was optimistic.
“I do think the meeting was successful in many respects, and in fact, I’m still in conversation with them about the entire situation,” he said.
Belmodis declined to comment on her involvement in the meeting or the ongoing process with NWACC, electing to have Hallett’s emails speak for her instead.
“David Hallet has been the person communicating with the NWACC and is representing Chemeketa in this matter. I currently am not involved in the process,” she said.
Chief among Chemeketa’s concerns were that NWAC officials did not follow their own written policy in ruling against Chemeketa.
Although league rules indicate that complaints against another team must be filed in writing, NWACC’s executive director, Marco Azurdia, said this not happen in this instance.
“Although there are no documents identifying a possible infraction, our compliance officer, Jim Jackson, overheard a conversation regarding the possible violation,” Azurdia said.
The Courier has filed a Freedom of Information request with league officials to examine all files pertaining to the ruling but has yet to receive any information.
League officials have been unresponsive to requests for comments as well.
While Chemeketa continues to deal with the fallout, Bowen, the man at the middle of it all, just wants to move on.
Bowen spoke April 22 about what took place last term and his plans for the future.
When asked if he would change anything in the recruiting process to make Chemeketa more aware of his verbal contract with a semi-professional team that caused the violations, Bowen said that he would not.
“I was happy. I felt like everything was done right,” he said. “So did the athletic faculty and staff, so there’s nothing to change.”
That’s not to say that he blames the Chemeketa staff in any way.
When discussing Coach David Abderhalden’s comments that the coach took partial responsibility for the situation, Bowen said he disagreed.
“I don’t think it’s anyone’s fault, really,” he said.
As a result of the ruling, Bowen is unable to play in the NWACC again. He is, however, able to join a college team in another league.
Bowen said that Corban College had shown some interest in him but that he had not made any decisions regarding his basketball future.
“I’m just focusing on school right now, trying to at least finish the term,” he said. “If I want to play somewhere else, I need to get my grades up.”
While he admited that the ruling against him was harsh, he accepted the league’s punishment.
“Fair is a matter of opinion,” he said. “To them, the decision that they made was the right decision.”
Hallett, meanwhile, is continuing to talk to NWACC officials about the possibility of reduced penalties against Chemeketa.
The two parties are expected to come to an agreement within the week.