It's a favorable outcome for Pima Community College following an appeal to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) on behalf of the men's soccer program.
Last November, the NJCAA suspended the team for two games following a post-game altercation involving another team. The decision knocked the highly ranked PCC out of the District 1 tournament.
Pima college officials insisted that the Aztec team acted properly, a position supported by video taken by fans. While initially saying there was no process for appeal, the NJCAA ultimately agreed to reconsider.
The NJCAA has reversed the finding of unsportsmanlike conduct and the suspensions of nine players and four members of the staff. The NJCAA also reduced the suspensions of 10 other players to one game, already served.
While the NJCAA held its decision of a two-game suspension for Head Coach David Cosgrove and six sophomore players, "the overall decision validated the College's position that PCC's players acted properly and as instructed," said Dean of Athletics/Fitness & Wellness Edgar Soto.
Coach Cosgrove will sit out the first game of the coming 2017-2018 season, but former Pima sophomore players who are now playing for four-year institutions will not have to serve any remaining suspensions.
"A life lesson can be that people like our chancellor and our board of directors standing up and saying, 'we're not just going to take this. We're going to look at this and support our student athletes, and make sure they get represented properly,'" said Cosgrove.
Conference officials had argued that while no Aztec players behaved with violence or used disrespectful or profane language, the act of turning toward the altercation helped escalate the situation.
"We are very pleased with this outcome. We thank and commend the NJCAA for taking another look and listening to our appeal. We recognize our Coach and amazing student-athletes who kept their heads high during this whole process," said PCC Chancellor Lee Lambert.
"This is a lesson in not giving up and standing up for what is right. I could not be more proud of the PCC staff who argued so passionately on behalf of our student-athletes and of our student-athletes, coaches and fans who didn't let this defeat them."