A few years ago, Sebastian told us he wanted to run in college and study education. Honestly, we hadn’t planned on college. We thought Sebastian would attend the 18-21 program at his high school. He did for one year, but then wanted to move on. We thought it would be a big jump to go directly into a matriculated college program, so we look for alternatives that would satisfy his academic and athletic goals. Using the Think College website, we looked at inclusive college programs in Division III schools. However, most schools wouldn’t consider having Sebastian on an NCAA team because the inclusive programs are non-degree programs and the NCAA requires student athletes to work towards a degree.
While I understood and respected the NCAA’s rules, I also knew they create waivers for students for a variety of reasons. I felt it was time to acknowledge that over 300 colleges in the US have students who live on campus, audit a full course load, and are welcomed to participate in every club and organization offered to all students….except for NCAA sports. That was an inequity I wasn’t willing to accept. The only way to eradicate an inequity is to find someone who is willing to listen and who is in the position to affect a positive change. Fortunately, we were able to partner with Gwynedd Mercy University in order to secure a four year NCAA waiver for Sebastian and all future Integrated Studies Students.
Today, Sebastian and I are featured in the The Philadelphia Inquirer. Many thanks to Gwynedd Mercy University and the NCAA for working with us, and reporter Susan Snyder for helping us get the word out. Now any DIII student in an inclusive college program will be eligible to compete as stipulated by the NCAA in their “Previously Approved Waivers Checklist.”
When I asked Sebastian how he felt about his role in making it easier for other students to compete for their schools he said, “I’m glad that I’m helping to change the community.”
Indeed. In my mind, there’s no better person to do it.