Char-Koosta News

The Official Publication of the Flathead Nation online

September 2, 2010

SKC to participate in Montana tribal college basketball league

By B.L. Azure

PABLO The Salish Kootenai College Bison and Lady Bison will participate in the inaugural season of the Montana tribal college basketball league under the auspices of the recently created Montana Tribal College Athletic Association.

This past spring representatives from the various tribal colleges in the state gathered to discuss the feasibility of establishing a tribal college athletic association and a basketball league under the association umbrella.

Juan Perez, Salish Kootenai College athletic director and coach of the Lady Bison, said Dr. Joe McDonald, SKC President Emeritus, got the ball rolling on the tribal college basketball league. Dr. McDonald's dream came true this May when the Montana Tribal College Athletic Association was formed. Quickly on its heels was the formation of the basketball league.

The founding members of the MTCAA basketball league include: Salish Kootenai College in Pablo; Blackfeet Community College in Browning; Stone Child College in Box Elder; Fort Belknap College in Harlem; Fort Peck Community College in Poplar; and Little Big Horn College in Crow Agency.

SKC and Little Big Horn College already have established men's and women's basketball programs. The other four tribal colleges will have to organize their men's and women's programs.

"One of the big reasons for forming the league is for the recruitment of Indian student athletes," Perez said. "A lot of the reservations have top quality high school basketball players who for some reason or another don't go on to play college level basketball. Our hope is to attract the student athletes to the tribal colleges to further their educations."

The MTCAA recently met to finalize league rules and regulations. Perez said he is currently working on the season schedule for the teams.

"I am pretty close to completing the league schedule," Perez said, adding that the competition in the tribal basketball league will occur over 10 weekends. On each of the weekends the member schools will gather at one location for a weekend of round robin basketball competition. The kick off round robin tournament will be November 6 and 7 at Stone Child College at Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation. The SKC teams will not be able to play in all of the 10 round robin tournaments due to pre-existing schedule commitments. "We will participate in the tournaments when we don't have other games scheduled for that weekend. For the most part the experience has been very positive. The biggest concern about the league is the financial part. That is why we scheduled the round robin format. The teams can all come to one location and play against each other instead of having one game here then having to travel to somewhere else to play a few days later. They'll get more games in without doing a lot of traveling."

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