Last fall, we wrote an opinion piece when the future of NCAA eligibility for NESCAC teams was first debated. Then, as now, it was clear that the Williams community was unanimously in favor of instituting the policy of full NCAA participation as experienced under the three year trial periods. Unfortunately, when confronted with the possibility of extending the trial period, it became obvious that six of the eleven school presidents, allegedly including Tom Gerety of Amherst, would vote to eliminate NESCAC participation in the NCAA. Now, faced with the recent NESCAC presidents’ “compromise” policy, it is clear that the opinion of the Williams community is not strong enough to sway the votes of the other NESCAC presidents. In order to affect some sort of change in the newly adopted policy, we need other college communities to put pressure on their presidents as well.
This new policy has been described as a compromise intended to keep NCAA participation a possibility while protecting the best interests of the student-athlete.
Said Gerety, “This is a compromise – in a compromise you can’t have everything.” But is this a compromise? Clearly, the decision to send one team was preferable to prohibiting all teams; however, it is unclear how the new policy actually benefits those schools who consistently experience NCAA success.
The ruling gives the schools opposed to NCAA participation what they want, while Williams and other schools that consistently send teams to NCAA national events compromise both their NCAA opportunities and what is in the best interest of the student athlete. For athletically successful schools, the policy is a failure on all counts.
Williams and Amherst have both experienced significant success on the national level, yet it is strongly rumored that Gerety planned to vote against the current policy.
However, the Amherst community has not responded as one would expect, given the similarities between the two schools. This apathy leads us to suspect that the Amherst community is simply not informed about the politics surrounding the presidents’ decision.
Although we relish the rivalry we have with Amherst, this is one time when it would be in the best interests of both schools to work together.
If we are serious about a change, we need Amherst and other NESCAC school communities to put pressure on their presidents as well.
Clearly, it is in the best interest of schools who experience NCAA success to extend the current policy indefinitely. Our greatest hope for achieving this end is by informing the various NESCAC schools of the advantages of the current situation versus the evils of the new one.
Our College Council has made strides in this direction by contacting other NESCAC student governments, but their efforts alone are not enough. Communication between captains and athletes across school lines is imperative to our salvaging the current policy.
Virtually everyone knows students at other NESCAC schools; we encourage the Williams community to utilize this network to foster discussion concerning the best interests of all student athletes.
Williams is recognized as a leader in the NESCAC community. This is an ideal opportunity to use our position of leadership to benefit all NESCAC student-athletes.