Insight News

Dec 20th

Minneapolis Community and Technical College shut down its Intercollegiate Men's and Women's Basketball Programs

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It is Wednesday, January 6th 2010, and it is a cold day in Downtown Minneapolis. The cars and trucks parked on the street are covered with snow, and the roads are icy; the feeling of “old man winter” is definitely present.  At Earl Bowman Hall on the campus of Minneapolis Community and Technical College, there is a different feeling among students, faculty, staff and fans alike.  They are hot, energetic, and filled with excitement. The hometown teams, the Mavericks, are getting ready to play longtime rivals, Spartans, from Fergus Falls Minnesota. 

This game will be the last time these two teams ever meet each other again on the court. How could this be?  The teams are in the same conference, and have played against each other numerous times in the past.  This final meeting is due to MCTC putting the lid on their Men's and Women's Basketball programs.

Since 1990, the Minneapolis Community and Technical College Men's Basketball Programs have been run by Coach Jay Pivec.  Pivec, a South Minneapolis native, played his ball at Minneapolis Southwest.   Pivec first started his coaching career as a Graduate Assistant at the University of Minnesota (U of M) for the Gophers Men's Team.  Following his beginning at the U of M, Pivec was an assistant Men's Coach at Minnesota State University-Mankato for two years (1978-1980) before moving on to coach at Augsburg College for one year (1980-1981).  Pivec then returned to the U of M, for one year as an assistant, the season they won the Big Ten title. (1981-1982).

At the tender age of 27 Pivec got his first chance as Head Basketball Coach at Jamestown College in Jamestown, ND.  While at Jamestown College, Pivec compiled a record of 41 wins to 37 losses and a conference championship in 1984.  After his stint at Jamestown College, he took the head coaching position at Montana State University Northern (MSUN).  There his teams were regulars in the post-season.  Pivec’s teams finished runner-up in the Frontier Conference playoffs in 1986, 1988, and 1989.  

Prior to coach Pivec’s arrival at MCTC the Mavericks teams could be characterized as a doormat in the Minnesota Community College Conference.  Previously known as the Minneapolis Community College Marauders. in the 1989-1990 season the team went 0-22. In Pivec's first season, the Marauders went 16-10 and made the playoffs.  Since his arrival, Pivec has led the program to 15 seasons with 20 or more victories, including a school record of 33 wins in 2009. During the 2009 season, the Mavericks clinched the Region 13 Championship with an 80-64 win over Madison Area Tech, Wisconsin. MCTC then traveled to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), Division III (DIII) Men's Basketball Tournament in Delhi, NY, where they advanced to the title game and fell 58-57 to Richland College, Texas in the final seconds.   

Pivec was inducted into the Minnesota College Athletic Conference Hall of Fame in 2002.  He has a record of 428-109 (at MCTC), and an overall record of 539 wins to 236 losses.  He has also been named coach of the year in the Minnesota Community College Conference eight times; in 1993, ‘95, 2001, ‘03, ‘05, ’06, ‘07 and 2009.  

Pivec is more than a coach to the men he coaches. He is a mentor, teacher, and sometimes a father figure to his men.  Over half of his team is composed of guys who either did not play high school basketball at all, only made it on the Junior Varsity Team, or it just did not work out for them with the coach of their high school team. That is why his team is nicknamed 2nd chance U. Pivec gives a chance to play to guys who wouldn’t get a chance anywhere else.  He has also coached seven NJCAA All-Americans, the most of any Division III program. The MCTC Men’s Basketball team has had 67 of its players transfer four year colleges or universities.  Students transferring to other schools to play ball need at least 48 transferable credits, or an Associates Degree, so let’s just say that his men are not only handling business on the court, but in the classroom as well.  Also the City of Minneapolis has declared June 12th Minneapolis Mavericks Day, recognizing the team’s accomplishments over the years, and specifically during the 2008-2009 season.

Now for those of you not familiar with MCTC or the Basketball Programs know that it is more than just a Community College in downtown Minneapolis, it is an institution of hopes and dreams, a place where the citizens of the Twin Cities can get a chance for life improvement.  MCTC is the most ethnically diverse college in Minnesota.  A member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System, MCTC offers more than 80 liberal arts, career and technical programs designed to prepare people for good jobs in high demand professions.  MCTC has more than 13,000 students a year, and is an active partner in initiatives to strengthen the social, economic, and cultural diversity of the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area.  

So your asking, why such a successful athletic program must shut down?  It’s the budget.  To run the basketball programs for one year at MCTC costs the college $118,000 a year.  The program historically has been funded through college funds, but budget challenges have led to the decision to seek private funding.  “MCTC is not in a position to fund intercollegiate athletics through its annual operating budget,” said President Phil Davis.  “We’re cutting $2.5 million from this years operating budget, closing programs that have served the community for years.  Several other colleges have closed their athletic programs over the past few years due to budget pressure,” Davis said.
One other thing you should know is that the decision of shutting down the program wasn’t just based on President Phil Davis’s decision.  It was recommended by a group of students known as the Student Senate.  Also, the Student Senate decision wasn’t overnight as well.  The student senate has been doing three years of surveys to see how $118,000 could benefit the students of MCTC better.  According to a MCTC spokesperson, “We are proud of the many important achievements on our campus this past year, including the opening of a health clinic for students, run by Boynton Health Services.  In addition, more than 3,000 students have taken advantage of the bus-pass program this fall, up from 400 before the program began. So the President and the Student Senate had to make a decision.  Keep a program that helps 30 students, or have a program that can help 13,000 students.  No matter what the decision they made there are still some un-happy people out there who are upset, and want the athletic programs in the school.”
One person who is not happy with the situation at all, student Layton Smith, said, “The current Student Senate and College President don’t understand the importance of giving our at risk youth something positive to do, particularly in North Minneapolis.  At a time when social programs along with reduced funding for parks and YMCA’s, are putting more and more of our young people at risk, this is not the time to be cutting our MCTC Men's and Women's basketball teams.”

With all that being said, you can look at the shutting down of the Intercollegiate Men's and Women's Basketball Programs at MCTC as a good thing, or a bad thing.  The good thing is that over 13,000 people will get some type of help with transportation to and from school, health care services, and much more student services, or the bad thing, 30 at risk, inner-city young men and women miss having their dreams fulfilled by playing intercollegiate college basketball, travel the country, and the chance to get a college education.  As a reader you decide.

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