Northern Oklahoma College looks to reboot wrestling amidst big changes

by Charles Gerian

The Northern Oklahoma College Board of Regents met last week and agreed to pay an undisclosed amount in fines to the U.S. Department of Education. The board also made an announcement about the college’s long-dormant wrestling program.

The April meeting began at 2 p.m. at the college campus. The board approved the payment of fines for failing to comply with the Jean Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, university officials said in a news release. The legislation requires colleges to report on-campus crime statistics annually. The board voted to pay the negotiated amount plus interest.

During the meeting, it was announced that NOC is looking into revisiting its wrestling program. The short-lived program was started in the late 1960s and had its share of successes in the 1970s.

Few details were disclosed regarding the potential reboot of the program.

Soccer, a sport the college is known for, had some big news as well. The board heard from Athletic Director Alan Foster about the possibility of giving NOC’s Enid campus its own program – or perhaps moving soccer from Tonkawa to Enid.

The shuffling of programs comes months after NOC’s controversial decision to cut competitive cheer from Tonkawa. That move came amid cost-cutting measures in the wake of the college’s use of pandemic relief funds to balance its budget.

Other proposed cuts included enforcing student housing policies and rental rates for campus facilities, employing energy saving options and merging the Miss NOC Enid and Tonkawa pageants into one.

The college used one-time pandemic relief funds to balance the 2023 budget. As those funds are no longer available for the next fiscal year, the college’s budget will need to be reduced by $1.5 million, according to the university.

The board also discussed a wide range of topics, including an employee supplemental compensation policy and procedure. The new policy allows private citizens to contribute funds to the Northern Oklahoma College Foundation to be used for a bonus for college employees.

The individual fund must be set up with the approval of the NOC president before any funds are contributed. Regents asked that the policy be approved by the Oklahoma State Attorney General’s Office.

The NOC supplemental retirement program also was amended. The change allows a longer window for employees to apply for the early retirement incentive program so more employees have an opportunity to take advantage of the program.

Also approved was the college’s texting policy, which will improve college faculty, staff and coaches’ ability to contact students who are already on campus or in the recruiting process, officials said in a news release.

The board approved a policy and procedure for public comments at regents’ meetings. The policy allows for three minutes per person or five minutes per group. In the new policy, regents will listen to oral comments but cannot respond, and any action regarding the comments will not be taken.

It was also announced that Blackwell businessman Mike Loftis will join the board during the summer.