Nearly Three Years Later, Basketball Remains in Exile at WCC

WCC’s basketball court mainly used for intramurals and during Common Hour. (Photo: Marcus Johnson)

Since the forged transcript scandal in 2014, WCC’s basketball program has been suspended while investigations took place. Tyrone Mushatt, the ex-coach of the men’s basketball program, was found to have been giving falsified transcripts on behalf of players to universities such as St. Johns, Florida A&M and Concordia College.

Mushatt has plead guilty to “Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree, a felony, and Conspiracy in the Fifth Degree, a misdemeanor,” said a press release from New York State Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott on Feb. 28. He is due in court on June 6 for sentencing.

Despite the guilty plea and removal of staff involved in the scandal the decision to continue the suspension of WCC’s basketball program has held and no estimates have been made as to its return.

“It’s an institutional decision to not field teams—when those things went down there had to be an investigation and that has taken a really long time. The national office has said we want to wait for those investigations to be complete before we rule on any sanctions you may face. So we’ve been in a holding pattern since then,” said Michael Belfiore, Director of Athletics.
The scandal suspended both basketball programs on campus, despite the women’s team not being involved in any way.

“I wasn’t here when that decision was made. I can tell you I know the women’s team was struggling for numbers at the time and there were concerns about the athletics program and the oversight in general of both programs that kind of balled in together,” Belfiore said.

“I think that went into the decision-making process to not offer it for that following year and since that point moving forward we’ve kind of just been trying to bring both programs back together.”

There is not a set estimate on the return of the men’s and women’s basketball teams, but in an effort to bring the sport back onto the campus, WCC hosted the NJCAA Tournament in March.

“We’re hosting, and Dr. Miles mentioned it at the State of the College, the regional tournament, which is a big step and I think showing our region and national governing body that we’re ready to bring it back which is part of the process,” Belfiore said.

“By us hosting it, it gets basketball back on this campus and I had hoped that that would kind of get the ball rolling and give us some momentum to bring the programs back. There are some logistical things that we’re exploring as far as our staffing and everything to get the structure right and the way we’d like it to be moving forward.”

Despite not having a basketball program, money in the budget has still been allocated towards towards the team.

“Basically it’s part of the budget, we don’t just typically spend that. We’re anticipating basketball coming back, we’re not going to spend it or build extra costs into the budget on an ongoing basis because we’re anticipating basketball returning. It’s only been a fairly short time anyway, we’re hoping maybe this fall but no firm decision has been made,” said David Sklar Executive Director of Faculty Student Association (FSA).

The presence of sports on campus has been lessening over the years and the efforts to rebuild school athletics has been a rough road. Although the date of basketball’s return is uncertain, there are steps being taken bring the school closer to finally reviving WCC’s basketball program.

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