Payne meets with NESCAC committee

Intent on further discussing any actions concerning the recent NESCAC desicion regarding post-season play, President of the College Harry C. Payne met with College Council Co-Presidents Will Slocum ’99 and Kate Ervin ’99 and Secretary Bert Leatherman ’00 on Monday May 4. This meeting was followed by a meeting of the 25 students on the CC committee on the NESCAC issue.

Slocum, Ervin and Leatherman met with Payne to examine the course of action best taken by the student body. Leatherman noted, “We wanted to see what our options were and if Payne was as willing to stick up for post-season play as he initially seemed to be.”

Leatherman described Payne’s approach as “reading from the CC minutes the arguments which were put forth and then picking them apart.”

Leatherman offered as an example “the argument that the new NESCAC plan limits coaches in a way that professors would never be limited. Payne pointed out that professors are limited in such a way. They cannot spend as much time as they may like to on research or a book which might let them shine on the national stage because they have teaching obligations.”

Leatherman noted, “Our plan is to write a letter that we can send to the presidents and trustees of other schools, parents of athletes, alumnae and the press.” Leatherman, Eric Soskin ’99 and Laura Brenneman ’99 drafted a letter which Payne has agreed to critique for arguments an administrator could easily shoot down.

Leatherman noted, “It seems as if Payne is straddling the fence. He views the plan as a good compromise. He is willing to help us because he likes post-season play but he isn’t so strongly in favor of it that he is against the compromise.”

At the meeting Payne also advocated postponing action on the issue to the fall, when he thought it would be most effective. Leatherman noted “I’m sure he’s well-intentioned, but we’re not that patient.”

The following night a meeting of the CC committee on NESCAC was held. The meeting lasted about an hour and opened with a report on Slocum’s, Ervin’s and Leatherman’s meeting with Payne.

Leatherman said, “We discussed the best way to get in touch with the parents of athletes, with the aim that parents will call the president about the policy. We also talked about contacting trustees on the Committee on Student Life as well as other trustees who played sports at Williams.”

Other plans of action include acting on the close ties a student on the committee has with Sports Illustrated and getting a list of the team captains next year so they can be involved in the process and calling alumni and trustees.

Leatherman said, “We have a meeting planned for May 19 with Athletic Director Robert Peck and all the athletic department so we can demonstrate our support to all the coaches and ask them to show their commitment to post-season play.”

Campus at Large Representative Dave Walfish ’00 is a member of the CC NESCAC committee. He stressed that this committee is made of people who expressed an interest, not people appointed by CC.

Walfish said, “This seems to be an issue of importance to a large amount of students and I felt, as at-large representative, it was something I should get involved with.”

He noted, “I see this issue as having a large affect on the type of students Williams attracts. There is some concern that if athletes will have less of an opportunity to compete at the national level, it is less likely that they’ll come here.”

Walfish suggested the policies concerning alcohol is a recent issue at Williams with comparative significance to students. “But,” he noted “I don’t know how much we are able to affect that situation while [with the NESCAC policy] it seems we may be able to do something.”

Dan Bullock ’98, co-captain of the men’s hockey team, suggested this issue is important to a lot of students “because of the high portion of students who participate in athletics, have friends who do or support the teams as spectators.”

He noted that in recent years Middlebury has dominated NESCAC hockey but other teams have been able to qualify because the NESCAC rules allowed more than one team to advance.

“This is not just a Williams issue—it affects all the NESCAC schools,” Bullock emphasized. “A lot of people may see our actions as completely self-serving, but the policy will have bad consequences for all NESCAC schools. Even those which today have little chance of fielding a team at the national level may in the future be strong enough. I think people realize the decision is plagued with terrible forsight—there hasn’t been anything since I’ve been here that will have as adverse an affect on Williams and the other NESCAC teams.”

Not all students are equally up in arms over the issue. Asked about his opinion on the NESCAC issue, Alex Tornow ’00 responded “What’s NESCAC?” After the confusion had been cleared up, Tornow commented “I guess it would be nice for teams to be able to go to nationals but I think its not an issue that’s worth investing in emotionally.”

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