The Williams Blog gets results! At least, that is the claim of long time reader David H.T. Kane ’58:

CAUSE:
Morty to Alumni Office–“Get someone on this Kane guy, Class of ’88.”

EFFECT:
Blog, Thursday September 25: “With some help from Teresa Lucia in the alumni office, I can now say that Williams does a pretty good job of being transparent.”

ALSO:
The Blog is read in the Big Apple. Take a look at NYTimes editorial this morning on class spots to athletes at elite colleges, “Choosing Athletes Over Students”.

Alas, Teresa Lucia’s help was probably independent of Morty. I just called the number listed here. The Times editorial is worth reading in its entirety.

Swarthmore College is known more for classics studies than athletics. Its football team once lost 28 straight games. But when Swarthmore scrapped its football program, it did so not because of its record. The problem was that too many places at the 1,400-student college were set aside for athletes. Swarthmore feared that building a competitive football team would make it necessary to turn away too many would-be scholars in fields like humanities.

Elite colleges are largely free of the payoffs and scandals that dominate big sports-driven universities. But there is evidence that they, too, have been seduced by the belief that they need winning sports teams, no matter the cost. A new book, “Reclaiming the Game: College Sports and Educational Values,” by William Bowen and Sarah Levin, argues that Ivy League and other elite colleges are setting aside too many seats for athletes — and giving coaches too much power in admissions.

This arrangement is hard to justify. Students who are accepted into the elite colleges because of their athletic prowess arrive on campus with lower SAT scores than walk-ons, players who were not recruited. The gap never disappears between recruited students and walk-ons throughout college. These trends are troubling enough at mega-universities, where athletes are a tiny fraction of the student body. But they are cause for concern at small colleges, where the Bowen-Levin book counted a quarter of the men and a fifth of the women on campus as athletes, more than half of them recruits.

Too many of the nation’s large universities spend huge amounts of money in pursuit of a winning sports season. It is discouraging to see the elite schools going in the same direction. Piecemeal reform, however, is doomed to failure. The only plausible solution is for regions and athletic conferences to adopt new, more sensible policies.

For Williams, however, there is another plausible solution: End the practice of “tips” — extreme preferential treatment given to coach-designated athletes — for 5 years and see what happens. Note:

1) Because of its incredible athletic performance, Williams is less in need of tips than any of its peers. Although losing tips might — might! — cause Williams to not win the Directors Cup, it is hard to believe that Williams teams would not still do very well.

2) Removing tips in not way diminishes the aggregate amount of athletics at Williams. There would be the same number of soccer games and swimming meets. The only change (besides, presumably, a decrease in the number of victories) would be that a different set of students would get to participate.

3) Williams styles itself a leader in elite undergraduate education. This issue allows Williams to demonstrate that leadership.

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