College sports eligibility expanded for HFM PTECH students

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Fulton Montgomery Community College and the HFM PTECH program have announced a new partnership agreement that will allow PTECH students finishing their associates degrees at the college to participate in intercollegiate athletics, provided the student has exhausted their high school athletic eligibility.

The new sports eligibility is coming at a time when FMCC has struggled to field some of its traditional intercollegiate sports teams amid declining enrollment at the college. FMCC did not field a men’s baseball or women’s softball team for the spring semester and the women’s basketball team’s season was delayed until January due to housing problems at the college. 

Daniel Fogarty, FMCC’s Associate Dean of Academic and Student Affairs, said the year 13 and 14 portions of the HFM PTECH program have basically led to a gap in the athletic eligibility for PTECH students after they conclude their 12th grade year, but before they have finished their career pathway program.

“Once (PTECH) students exhaust their high school eligibility, and they’re still on our campus within the PTECH program, they haven’t had anywhere to turn to as far as sports,” Fogarty said, explaining the origin of the new partnership.

The Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery Pathways in Technology Early College High School (HFM PTECH) program is a career-pathway, experimental high school model that includes students from most of the different component school districts in the HFM BOCES.

PTECH students first attend classes for 9th and 10th grade at the Glebe Street School in Johnstown, but then move to the HFM BOCES and or FMCC campus for 11th grade and beyond. Then, depending on their career pathway, PTECH students in 12th-grade and years 13 and 14 either go to SUNY Cobleskill for agriculture degree pathways, or FMCC for all other degree pathways. PTECH students are provided a full scholarship as they complete their associates degrees in either agriculture, advanced manufacturing, business, computer science or medical/health science.

During their high school years, PTECH students remain eligible to play sports at their home school districts, receiving a bus ride back from PTECH for practices and games.

“A lot of those students had excelled in athletics during their high school careers,” Fogarty said. “So, they’ve always wanted, if they’re going to stay at FMCC (to finish their associates degrees) to have the ability to continue with those sports, and they’ve constantly appealed (to have that collegiate eligibility), and because of that our athletic director (Kevin Jones) appealed multiple times to the NJCAA(National Junior College Athletic Association), and then, finally, this year they approved it with those parameters in place”

Going forward PTECH students will have the ability to apply to the NJCAA for collegiate athletic ability, which will review the requests individually and then issue eligibility on a case-by-case basis.

Fogarty said part of his mandate as FMCC’s Associate Dean of Academic and Student Affairs has been to strengthen the college’s existing partnerships with other academic or private business entities, with an aim toward increasing or maintaining student enrollment at the college. He said opening up collegiate athletic eligibility for HFM PTECH students should help fulfill those goals.

“It’s nice because it will help to keep the students here finishing up the PTECH program happy, because they can continue their sports, and then it allows us to have them help our programs too, because our (academic and sports) programs can certainly use these good students,” he said. “I know we’ve got roughly 60 or so (PTECH) students on our campus. This should help us tremendously. With our sports teams, we’re in a competitive league, but we’re always looking for additional players to fill our teams. This will guarantee and ensure that our programs actually stay full to the point where we continue to stay competitive.”

Fogarty said HFM PTECH students won’t have to be full-time students to be eligible to participate in intercollegiate sports for FMCC’s teams when the new partnership takes effect starting with the fall 2022 semester.

By Jason Subik

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