Northwest needs to respond to cases against students

Submitted by Mike Tooke
Posted 10/17/23

Dear editor:

To paraphrase Will Rogers, all I know is what I read in the paper. 

I read the front-page article in today’s (Oct. 12) Powell Tribune concerning the NWC …

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Northwest needs to respond to cases against students


Dear editor:

To paraphrase Will Rogers, all I know is what I read in the paper. 

I read the front-page article in today’s (Oct. 12) Powell Tribune concerning the NWC basketball players. I am disgusted, disillusioned and infuriated. An equally offensive slap in the face to the community is the NWC official response — or more accurately, their lack of response.

The paper reported AT LEAST three current members of the NWC men’s basketball team broke into private property and destroyed a building, inflicting an estimated $200,000 in damages. There is security camera video of these people willfully destroying property. The paper also stated NWC athletic director Brian Erickson had spoken with at least two of them and they had said “they had taken SEVERAL of their NWC basketball teammates with them” on Sept. 30. These students “allegedly” broke in on two separate nights and at least two of them are facing eight felony counts each.

These are not “just boys being boys.” They were not toilet papering a sorority. Or “just blowing off a little steam.”  

And what is the NWC response according to the paper? NWC officials said they would not be commenting on the case. That’s it. 

These students represent that college to this community. The people of Powell and neighboring communities help fund that college. Various civic organizations, businesses, and stores contribute money and volunteer time to help support that college.

And NWC officials cannot be bothered with a response of any kind?

Perhaps NWC President Lisa Watson might want to rethink that position. Here is a preliminary outline to help her get started.

• First, apologize and acknowledge the embarrassment these adults brought to NWC and to the community. These athletes represent NWC. And as president, so do you. You are being well compensated to lead NWC. Act like it.

• Announce That EVERYONE implicated is immediately removed from any team or organizations representing NWC. Representing NWC is a privilege, not a right.

• Clarify that those responsible will have their day in a court of law. But they immediately forfeited their privilege to represent NWC by their actions. They are on camera and acknowledged there are several other teammates involved! They. All. Have. Got. To. Go.

• Announce you are launching an investigation into the basketball program. There is obviously some team leadership accountability lacking when numerous players are involved in multiple nights of destruction of private property — to the tune of almost a quarter of a million dollars. Emphasize that when the investigation is concluded, the outcome will be promptly publicized.

• Publish the apology and comments in a full-page ad in papers of the various communities where NWC operates. Hold a press conference. Make it as public as possible. Show the public you take this seriously. 

• Let it immediately be known that such acts DO NOT represent the values which NWC strives to maintain.

You are accepting the responsibility being entrusted to you by the public, the students and the parents to help guide young adults into the real world. This includes demonstrating self-responsibility and accountability for whatever you do or fail to do.

Silence is complicity. And the silence of not commenting on this case is deafening.

Mike Tooke


(Editor’s note: This is the full statement NWC provided: Northwest College was recently notified of an investigation into a property crime that occurred in rural Big Horn County. The incident allegedly involved some Northwest College student athletes. Any crime is a serious matter, so with respect to the investigative process and the due process owed to our students, no further information will be released by Northwest College at this time. Please contact the Big Horn County Sheriff’s Office with questions.)