Quincy University athletic teams too small to compete at nationals

Paden Lewis receiving a medal for the shot put at Indoor GLVC Conference for track and field.

A couple of weeks ago Paden Lewis, a thrower on Quincy University’s track team, was looking forward to what his season had in store. Lewis was hoping to be in contention for nationals in the weight throw and shot put. He gave the following statement to QUTV when asked about his season on February 13. 

“So far this season is going really well for me. Right now I’m top ten in the nation for shot put, for weight right now I’m top 25. I’m trying to get that up so I can go to nationals for that as well, but so far I’m sitting really well. So far we are two weeks out from conference, I’m looking to be a repeat conference champion in the shot put. Hopefully become a conference champion in the weight. Soon after that go to nationals and hopefully get on the podium,” Lewis said. 

Lewis did improve his weight throw mark, making him 12th for Division II nationwide in the event. He also finished his conference season at 12th nationwide for the shot put. Both of these marks put him right outside of placing at nationals if he were to further improve. Even without improvement, Lewis would be coming home with the honor of being a Division II first team All-American in both events. 

However this never happened, as Lewis was one of the two athletes at Quincy University that never got the chance to go to nationals. 

Paden Lewis's public response on Instagram regarding being unable to compete at nationals.
Paden Lewis’s public response on Instagram regarding being unable to compete at nationals.

Paden Lewis and Wyatt Walsh, a swimmer on Quincy University’s new swim team, both qualified for nationals in their respective sport. But neither athlete was able to go because of the same NCAA rule. Both teams, swimming and track, were below the mandatory amount of members needed to be able to send athletes to nationals. 

“We were in objective violation of the rules as they are written right now. That’s not a debate, nor do we have the ability to change the NCAA rulebook right now (maybe in a few years). The system is working as it should, which should point you towards a flawed system,” Bryan Christiansen, swimming coach, stated.  

Neither team denied that they did not violate the rule, but Christiansen did highlight, in a written statement, where there could be a discrepancy. 

Twitter video giving explanation from sim coach
Twitter video released by QU swim teams in regards to being unable to compete at nationals.

“Where I do think it’s unfair is the opacity of waiver and appeal submission (The NCAA representative quoted that we could not appeal within 48 hours of championship selection, which is not actually true according to in the rulebook), and how NCAA committees can pick and choose which rules to follow. For context, Quincy’s wrestling program (also new) ran into the same sports sponsorship issue and was approved. Quincy’s Indoor Track and Field was also denied, difficult for a new coach who had no part in the previous coach’s recruiting and retention,” Christiansen stated. 

Wrestling had a woman qualify for nationals and were also in violation of having not enough members on the women’s side. However their appeal was granted, even though both swimming and track’s appeals were denied. 

“Now women’s wrestling is a NCAA sponsored sport, however they do not compete at an NCAA championship. So the NCAA does not host their championships, their national championships. It is a different entity so they went through a different committee. Or our coach did for that and their waiver was approved. So unfortunately we are looking at a situation where it is left in the hands of people who are on these committees, each committee is going to be different. As well as the criteria, you know what they think is good enough to get a waiver approved,” Taylor Zerbe, assistant athletic director for NCAA compliance, said. 

This sponsorship rule is especially difficult for a small private institution like Quincy University to accomplish with new athletic programs. One of the main reasons Zerbe explains wrestling got approved by their committee was because it was their first year as well.

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