Close readers of this Sunday’s New York Times will have been drawn to the front page article, “Play to Win, or Just to Play? N.C.A.A.’s Lowest Rung Split”.

Basic storyline is that there is some tension within Division III about how serious the athletes (and the athletic programs) should be. One example mentioned was the maximum of 5 weeks of spring footbal practice that is allowed. (Anyone know if Williams has a spring football practice?) Some of the conferences within Divisions III, including NESCAC, within which Williams plays, are considering forming their own division with stricter guidelines. The only paragraph that mentioned Williams directly was:

Some institutions, though small, are nonetheless Division III athletic giants in many sports, none more notable than Williams College in Massachusetts. For the last four years, Williams, with about 2,000 students, has won the Directors’ Cup, presented annually to the Division III institution gauged to have the best overall athletic program.

Nothing wrong with that. Faithful observers of the Williams scene, however, could not but be struct by this observation:

Bigger Division III institutions tend to have more money for better athletic facilities and they draw their athletes from a larger pool of applicants, both geographically and academically. “If a school of 10,000 students lets in 75 more athletes for its teams, it’s not going to raise any eyebrows,” said Steve Allrich, the Centennial Conference’s top administrator. “That’s 3 percent of the freshman class. If a school of 2,000 does the same thing, it’s a big issue because that’s 15 percent of the freshman class.”

Hmmm. Does anyone know of a Division III school with 2000 students that lets in “75 more athletes?” I don’t think Mr. Allrich was referring to Williams, but consider this recent article from the Record.

Athletic tips comprised 68 of the admitted student group; though the College generally accepts 66 tips, they accepted 68 this year because only 64 tips attended last year. An additional 177 have been identified by coaches as capable of competing at the varsity level, but were not formally recruited.

I am still trying to determine exactly what a “tip” is. I don’t remember the term from our time at Williams. Anyone with good information should please enlighten the rest of us. In the meantime, the most plausible reading of this paragraph (to me) is that the college has a quota (of size 66) of applicants who it will let in because of their atheletic talent but who they would not let in if they were not so athletic.

Is anyone besides me bothered by this?

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