Lewis suggests Division IIIA

Stephen Lewis ’60, president of Carleton College and former professor of economics at Williams, proposed to explore the possibility of creating a new NCAA athletic division, such as a Division IIIA or IV, encompassing small liberal arts colleges across the nation in a June 29 letter to presidents of such schools.

According to a story in The Amherst Student (Oct. 3, 2001), Lewis wrote that he had “been in conversation with a number of presidents from different parts of the country about the state of Division III athletics and the growing pressures which many of us regard as unhealthy.”

Lewis also suggested that like-minded liberal arts colleges abandon the Division III organization entirely. Lewis cited a need “to get varsity athletics back in to proper perspective,” and “to make certain that student athletes come from and represent the student body” as reasons for liberal arts colleges to form a new division. Among the many ideas submitted by Lewis, the letter calls for “fewer games/matches/meets per sport per student,” “no Sunday competition or practice,” and shortened seasons.

Morton Schapiro, president of the College, confirmed that he knew about Lewis’ idea and that the NESCAC presidents discussed it at their recent meeting.

“During the meeting of the NESCAC presidents, [Lewis’s] idea of an alternative to NCAA Division III did come up and that is one of the topics we will return to in the future,” said Schapiro.

The idea, however, has so far not evolved into anything more than a topic of conversation. Tom Gerety, president of Amherst, supports the idea in principle, according to The Student article.”Most of [the NESCAC presidents] are strong critics of the NCAA. I think a Division IV would be a very helpful development,” Gerety said.

Schapiro, on the other hand, belives that there are likely better solutions to the perceived problems.

“This is an interesting idea, but I remain committed to the notion that our teams should be able to demonstrate their abilities at the highest level possible,” said Schapiro. “I don’t believe. . .that preventing NCAA competition and the like solve any problems. If we make sure that our athletes are in fact representative of the student bodies. . .these sorts of ‘fixes’ will fade away.”

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