Questions raised about athletic department

To the Editor:

I find it strangely ironic that Bob Peck and Carl Samuelson (“Sam”) should have their careers simultaneously honored in last week’s Record. I think many students would be interested to learn the full extent of Peck’s involvement in Sam’s premature retirement, which will follow his technical “leave” this year. After Sam’s 33 years of distinguished service here at Williams, Peck dealt with Sam as if he were an outcast. Last summer, a small dispute arose, the details of which have never been elucidated to me (and many others) in a satisfactory manner, and within days Sam’s career was over. No attempt was made to rectify matters. (Peck and Sam had a notoriously tumultuous relationship.) Jason Enelow’s article lists all of Peck’s accomplishments. Sears Cups and Ph.D.’s mean nothing to me if he didn’t care about his employees. In Enelow’s article, Peck says he has “a love for traditions.” I hope it isn’t the college’s tradition to treat their devoted employees disgracefully. Have other coaches and staff been treated similarly?

After my family and I expressed outrage that the college would choose to treat one of its most devoted employees so poorly, we received an impersonal and pathetic letter from Harry Payne. We were assured by Payne that sudden retirement is what Sam wanted after over 50 years in coaching! That struck me as funny. My family (who had become close to Sam and Mrs. Sam in my first two swim seasons) had spoken to Sam throughout the ordeal; we did not get the sense that he was happy with how he was treated! In fact, he felt as if he had been turned on. Yet the college had no problem shoving him aside.

In addition to his immense professional success, Sam made thousands of lifelong friends. This had something to do with his coaching, but more to do with his personality and warmth. Indeed, he had a great career and now he gets to retire with his wonderful wife in Williamstown. But truly, Sam deserved a final campaign; A chance for us (and the league) to honor him for a full year.

The college has realized the error of its ways and has begun the process of properly honoring Sam (in addition to issuing an apology to Sam, I have heard). But I’m not confident that the college would have cared in the least were it not for the masses of complaints, calls, and letters from students, parents, and alumni crying foul. If you want to know the level of esteem that Sam’s swimmers held for him, I invite you to read Matt Ellis’ article from last week.

Let me tell you, I am so extremely excited to go to homecoming to see the Williams baseball grandstand renamed to honor Bob Peck as described in Jason Enelow’s article. It may almost be as exciting as watching him receive the Sears Cup. (Excuse me for having trouble honoring Peck.)

Meanwhile, Williams’ beautiful swim pool will be renamed in coach Sam’s honor this spring(co-named for his mentor Bob Muir). Mind you, this is not because Sam plunked down a few thousand bucks so that people could clap at him; the alumni pushed for it because his strength of presence in the lives of his swimmers resembled familial bonds. I, many swimmers, and many alumni will be proud to swim in Sam’s pool. But I won’t be sitting on Peck’s self-aggrandizing grandstand.

Jeremy Faust ’01

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