To the editor,
Your article on the history of women’s ice hockey (“Exploring how women’s ice hockey broke the ice to achieve varsity status,” Feb. 7, 2018) is fine as far as it goes, but there is good deal more to the story. First, I personally believe that the pivotal ingredient in the upgrade to varsity status was the Colgate club team’s Title IX legal victory over that university, which occurred in 1992 or 1993 – the latter my hockey-playing daughter Dana Critchell Beausang ’97, M.D.,’s first year at Williams. Indeed, when I endowed the Williams Women’s Ice Hockey MVP Award, I thought of calling it the Colgate Award.
The upgrade to varsity status for the women was far from complete, however. Appearances were deceiving. The women’s ice hockey coach was paid somewhere between one-fifth and one-eighth of the men’s team counterpart’s salary for an essentially identical job. The players knew nothing about this. As can be imagined, this was not a happy situation for the women’s coach and only got worse over time. Dana liked her coach so I was concerned about keeping him. I did some things financially on my own to keep him in place, but the athletic director would do nothing.
Incidentally, my experience with Athletic Director Bob Peck was extremely similar to that of Stacey Dufor ’93. Putting it gently, Peck was duplicitous and a liar to me, as he clearly had been to Stacey. His hand had been forced into giving the women varsity status, and he wanted to spend as little as possible on the sport itself. I even appealed the pay disparity situation to the president of the College at the time, the late Hank Payne, and the chair of the Board of Trustees, but they had less than no interest.
Cutting to the chase, in 1997, after Dana and her fellow co-captain, Kim Whiteman ’97, stepped off the ice in their final game, I gave each of them the outline I had given Hank Payne spelling out the gross pay disparity between the two coaches. The rest, as they say, was history. Importantly assisted by Cara Shortsleeve ’00, they rounded up 700 student signatures on a petition calling for equal pay (for equal work). The College had no choice but to give in or face a serious public relations, and possibly legal, problem. The resulting pay increase for the coach finally moved the women’s program to full varsity status comparable to that of the men’s program.
Robert S. Critchell ’63, parent of Dana Critchell Beausang ’97, M.D.