Basketgall game vs. Trotters in doubt

They are one of the most storied franchises in basketball history, and they want to play against Williams. But it appears that an obscure NCAA rule will prevent the Harlem Globetrotters from lacing their sneakers up against the Ephs this year in a scrimmage that would send Williamstown into a frenzy.

Adding to the excitement, the Globetrotters were scheduled to come to Williams on Nov. 8, Williams’ homecoming. That would have created a scenario in which the Williams-Amherst football game in the morning was capped off by a men’s basketball and Globetrotters game that night.

While it is still possible the game might go on as planned, that would require a special exemption from both the NCAA and NESCAC. If that exemption is not granted, the Ephs could still play the Globetrotters later in the season, though it is far from certain that the teams’ schedules could both accommodate such a game.

Several years ago, the Globetrotters decided to promote their shows by playing competitive exhibition games against the national champions in each NCAA division.

“When I first heard about the game I was excited at the chance to take the floor against a team that virtually every little boy who loves basketball goes to see when they’re growing up,” said Mike Crotty ’04, a tri-captain on men’s basketball.

The root of the complication lies in NCAA Div. III athletics rules, which differ from Div. I and II rules, according to Head Coach Dave Paulsen.

“There is a NCAA rule for all Div. III athletics, where prior to Nov. 21, a team can only scrimmage with another American college or foreign team, but not another American non-collegiate team,” Paulsen said.

The College is in the midst of an application process to obtain approval to bypass the regulation. President Shapiro already signed a request for a waiver to submit to the NESCAC league meeting for approval. Williams College Athletic Director Harry Sheehy expressed confidence that the waiver will gain NESCAC approval, and will then move on to the NCAA committee. However, he said it is not certaint that the waiver will gain NESCAC or NCAA approval.

The NESCAC should rule by the end of September. Following the group’s decision, the NCAA ruling will take three to five weeks. Therefore, there is still a chance that the homecoming weekend game will go on as planned.

“If the game doesn’t work out, then we won’t be overly disappointed because I don’t think anyone on our team in their wildest dreams thought that they would tip it up against the Harlem Globetrotters at any point in their four years here,” Crotty said.

If the NCAA does not grant permission to bypass the rule, the game could conceivably be played after Nov. 21, but Paulsen expressed doubt at this possibility. He said the Globetrotters set this date since they would already be in the Northeast, playing at colleges such as UMass-Amherst, St. Johns and the defending Div. I national champions, Syracuse University, during November.

“Div. I and II colleges are able to sell 20,000 tickets to raise money and pay for the Globetrotters’ travel costs, but Williams cannot raise that amount of revenue,” Paulsen said. “Therefore, it is only sensible for the Globetrotters to come when they are already in the area.”

Whether or not the Ephs are able to take on the Globetrotters, the excitement of the 2002-03 championship season is enough for Crotty. “Last year was a magical year for us,” he said. “Our two biggest assets were our work ethic and team chemistry, as we had a hard working group of unbelievably unselfish guys that loved to go to work together every day.”

Crotty expressed confidence about the upcoming campaign. “Having been to the top we know it takes these ingredients as well as a few lucky bounces, and right now we are focused on creating a new identity for this team,” he said. “With a solid core of players back we are excited about the potential that we feel we have.”

The Ephs will begin their season in mid-November. Winter schedules will be available in mid-October.

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