Centralia College President Dr. James Walton was inducted in the Northwest Athletic Conference Hall of Fame on June 2 in Bellevue.
Walton served as the Washington Association of Community and Technical Colleges presidents’ liaison to the NWAC for three years. He is being recognized for leading an effort in 2005-06 to change the athletic scholarship and tuition waiver process, allowing student-athletes to earn up to 65 percent of their tuition from combined scholarships and tuition waivers. Previously, students could earn just $200 per quarter for tuition.
“Over time, tuition had gone up and $200 didn’t pay for one book, let alone cover any of an athlete’s tuition or living expenses,” explained Walton. “I wanted to tie tuition waivers and scholarships to a percentage of full tuition so students could earn more as costs increased, and it was more equitable.”
Walton faced an uphill climb with the other college presidents, however. When he first pitched the idea, there wasn’t a lot of support.
“With only six colleges supporting changes in athletic scholarships and waivers in the beginning, it took significant lobbying, compromise and arm-twisting to turn opinions around,” Walton said. “But, when you know you’re doing the right thing, it makes a difference. I knew this change had to happen for our athletes.”
His hard work paid off in March 2006, when the NWAC presidents recommended the maximum scholarship amount be set at 40 percent of the official 15-credit tuition rate, and they requested the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges give them the authority to allow a 25 percent tuition waiver. The State Board passed that resolution in June 2006.
The Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony was held at the Red Lion Hotel in Bellevue. Five individuals and two teams were honored.