A season that seemed destined to last deep into March won’t even continue into the postseason. The third-ranked Indian Hills basketball team was officially banned from participating in the postseason on Monday, bringing to an end the Warriors’ 2012-13 season with a 26-4 record.
“I think we were all shocked,” said Indian Hills coach Barret Peery. “We had 13 guys that were just devestated. Guys were just breaking down crying.
“Aside from the night I heard about Micheal Haynes being killed, this was the hardest day I’ve had as a head coach,” Peery added.
In a statement released by school president Jim Lindenmeyer, the college has been officially informed that due to a National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) violation stemming from incidents that occurred following the Southeastern game on Feb. 16. The program has been placed on probation and is not eligible for postseason play this year.
The violation came about when a college official bailed Indian Hills sophomore Ronald Ross out of jail following a postgame brawl in which Ross was arrested for assault on Billy Carroll, son of Southeastern head coach Terry Carroll.
Jim Lindenmayer, President of Indian Hills Community College, self-reported the violation on Tuesday, Feb. 19, after he was made aware of the rule that prohibits college officials from posting bail for a student athlete.
“Late Saturday after everyone was on their way home, I bailed a student-athlete out of jail. I was unaware of the rule, but I knew that I did not want to leave a player behind at an out of town facility under those circumstances,” Lindenmayer said. “I feel strongly that when we leave our campus with students in our care it is our duty to return them safely to campus. This is what I would expect of any staff member and what I would expect as a parent of a child under college supervision.”
Lindenmayer also addressed the penalty handed down by the NJCAA and the ramifications on the Warrior basketball team.
“I feel the penalty is very harsh, especially in light of our record for following NJCAA rules,” Lindenmayer said. “I sincerely apologize to our fans and the entire Indian Hills Community. Coach (Barret) Peery, his staff and players have worked very hard on this great season. Obviously this was a very unfortunate incident with lots of regrets from many people.”
Peery agreed that the punishment did not necessarily fit the violation.
“The intent of our program is sincere. The punishment we received was way too harsh,” Peery said. “There’s no part of me that would ever consider leaving a student-athlete behind in a strange city after bringing them there to participate in a school activity. I feel as strong about that as anything. In no way do I feel like any of our administration did anything wrong.”
Monday’s announcement brings an end to the IHCC basketball careers of 10 sophomores, who were honored following Saturday’s game against Marshalltown. Among those players are leading scorer and rebounder Jameel McKay, who finished his Warrior career with 1,022 points over two years, as well as Richard Amardi, Dustin Hogue, Ronald Ross, Ronnie Stevens and Rawane Ndiaye — who were all suspended for the final two regular-season games for their parts in the Feb. 16 postgame brawl at Southeastern.
Iowa Community College Athletic Conference commissioner Thom McDonald did not comment on the announcement.
The Region XI postseason tournament will officially get under way on Wednesday with regional semifinal matchups in Council Bluffs and in West Burlington. Fifth-ranked Iowa Western, whose only two losses this year have been to Indian Hills, assumes the Warriors’ position as the top seed in the tournament and will host Northeast Community College out of Nebraska Wednesday night at 7 p.m.
The ICCAC did rule on Monday that Marshalltown’s win at Indian Hills on Saturday night will stand, but will not count toward the seeding for the regional tournament. That ruling means the Tigers will drop below Southeastern in the final regional standings and will allow the Blackhawks to host Marshalltown in Wednesday’s regional semifinal.
The regional final will be held at the home of the highest-seeded team remaining on Saturday night. The Region XI postseason champion plays on Thursday, March 9 in North Dakota for the NJCAA District 9 title and an automatic berth in the NJCAA Division I Men’s Basketball National Tournament.
That tournament takes place in Hutchinson, Kan., a city the Indian Hills basketball team had set its sights on going — until Monday.
“We have as good a team as anyone in the country,” Peery said. “Our focus was on winning a national title.”