Tuesday, May 24, 2011

An idea whose time has come again

Sixteen schools comprise the Kentucky Community and Technical College System.


Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Of course, you are. Sixteen schools make for a perfect sports league. Furthermore, the 16 schools splay out across Kentucky in four totally reasonable divisions that would seed into totally reasonable tournaments: West Kentucky (main campus in Paducah), Henderson, Madisonville and Hopkinsville in the west; Owensboro, Bowling Green, Elizabethtown and Jefferson (Louisville) in the midwest; Gateway (Covington), Maysville, Bluegrass (Lexington) and Somerset in the mideast, and Ashland, Big Sandy (Prestonsburg), Hazard and Southeast Kentucky (Cumberland) in the east.

This is no new idea, of course. I'm pretty sure that David Feather went off and on to Paducah Community College Indian basketball and baseball games in the early 1980s, for example.

At Madisonville Community College (school colors blue and gold), founded in 1968, "(t)here was an emphasis during the early years on intercollegiate and intramural athletics that is no longer the case at MCC," writes George G. Humphreys in his book, The Quest for Educational Excellence, Madisonville Community College 1968-2009. "The college fielded a variety of teams in golf, archery, softball, and basketball to mention a few. Area businessman, J.R. Thornberry funded the cost of establishing a multi-purpose athletic field on the North Campus in the late 1970s to support many of the outdoor sports. ...

"However, in a basketball crazy state, it was men's basketball that drew the most interest. ... (F)ormer Madisonville High School stars Willie Nisbet and Tom Clayton took the initiative to start the basketball program shortly after the college was created. John Tedder coached for a number of years, followed by Stan Lewis; Madisonville High School allowed the team to play its home games on its court. With a very small budget, former sporting goods store owner George Pearce provided the uniforms for the team at little or no cost. One of Tedder's biggest moments as coach of the MCC Pacers was a trip to Elizabethtown to play in the Kentucky community colleges state tournament. ...

"The college's coal mining programs were a big recruiting tool for the team. Several Pacers players attended MCC to take advantage of the school's mining training. It may have been possible for the college to help them with their room and board through the former Holiday Inn that the college operated for some time. Robert Mayall, a Middlesboro High School basketball star, was one of these mining students. The Bell County resident played basketball one year at the University of Kentucky under Adolph Rupp before attending MCC. ...

"Intercollegiate and intramural sports ultimately died on the MCC campus in the 1980s. In part, this was due to a lack of support from the University of Kentucky. Dr. Otis Singletary, UK president from 1967-87, was notable for his opposition to using college funds for sports. That has not changed in recent years under the administration of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System even though several college presidents had an interest in reviving intercollegiate sports in the community college system. ...

"Certainly the lack of athletic facilities hampers student participation in athletics at MCC today. The athletic field is no longer visible. There have never been any indoor athletic facilities on the MCC campus. The tennis complex on the North Campus dedicated in April 2003 is the only athletic facilities operated by the college at the present time. ..."

OK, whatever, this obviously has to happen. Obviously, there has to be a KCTCS sports league, and, obviously, men's basketball has to be the flagship program. (In fact, I'm ready to just go ahead and announce Joe B. Hall as the first commissioner of that league.) I would also suggest that KCTCS seek to bridge KHSAA's recent, rapid expansion in sanctioned championships and Olympic sports--especially those at the intersection of little traditional Kentuckian participation and clear need for more U.S. talent.

Well, let's go ahead and look at who might be the favorites for the early men's basketball titles. Enrollment figures clearly favor West Kentucky (7,100 students in fall 2007) in the West, Jefferson (15,478) in the Midwest, Bluegrass (11,617) in the Mideast as their pools of prospects are significantly greater than those of their divisional rivals (Henderson 2,053, Hopkinsville 3,428 and Madisonville 4,364 in the West; Bowling Green 5,025, Elizabethtown 5,515 and Owensboro 5,439 in the Midwest, and Gateway 3,130, Maysville 3,635 and Somerset 7,113). The East, however, is wide open, as Ashland (4,758), Big Sandy (4,866), Hazard (4,458) and Southeast (4,849) are so similarly sized. And I expect Hoptown (who will obviously hire former County coach Kerry Stovall), Bowling Green (who should be able to recruit talented players who hope to eventually walk on at Western Kentucky University) and Maysville (home to a perennially strong high-school program that placed players on an NCAA Division I Final Four team and NAIA Division I champion this past spring) to challenge mightily in their divisions.

This is going to be great. GREAT!


  1. Eric, don't forget that in 1969, PCC won the National Junior College Athletic Assocation National Championship in men's basketball. I'm pretty sure I went to some of their games -- I certainly spent time in their gym (for piano recitals and the like). I think their colors were red and white.

  2. I wonder if any of our readers have other memories of PCC basketball?

  3. Very excellent point about PCC, GoHeath--thank you.

    By the way, if all the muckymucks of the KCTCS fail to read, heed and execute this call to action, then I'm retrofitting the whole deal to the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Kentucky.

  4. So which KY community colleges currently have a basketball program. That seems like the natural place to start.

  5. I would like to know the mascots and colors of all the schools. So far we have the PCC Indians and the MCC Pacers. Do we know any other mascots? Do we know any team colors?

  6. I get the impression that none of them have intercollegiate athletics now.

    And I agree that we need complete list of mascots and colors. And while I hate it that some of these schools have gone to regional, Golden State Warriorsish names, I think we probably ought to use them until KCTCS formally announces it is not pursuing our plan.

    West Kentucky Indians (red and white)
    Madisonville Pacers (blue and gold)

    Bowling Green


    Big Sandy
    Southeast Kentucky