Mike Needham ’04 sent in these comments:

As for the athletics issue on campus, most of your analysis is spot on. I say this as one of the biggest supporters of athletics around — I worked for the Mets this past summer, cover many teams for our sports section, etc. I also played varsity baseball through the end of high school, though certainly could not cut it here. The notion that the College has “nothing to hide” on the athletics front is ludicrous. The recently created Athletics Committee is nothing more than an attempt to brush important issues under the rug (how bizarre that the head of the athletics department would be on the committee that is supposed to oversee his department). I think many alums don’t realize how different athletics is at the College today than it was 15 years ago and certainly 30 years ago. Aaron Wilson had a fantastic opinions piece a few weeks ago on the subject. I also hope the two turf field editorials we ran (9/30) and (9/23) might have been helpful to the community in understanding how varsity athletics are squeezing out the old model of the true well-rounded Williams student embodied by the ideal of the Division of the Day.

I get scared when I read a something like: “many alums don’t realize how different athletics is at the College today than it was 15 years ago . . . ” I was an athlete 15+ years ago and have always assumed that things are, more or less, the same now as then. Of course, it is tough for me to know what life is like on campus today, just as it is tough for Mike to know what life was like 15-30 years ago. But, there is enough superficial evidence that things are different now to raise concerns. After all, as best I recall, there was no discussion of “tips” in the late 1980’s.

Fortunately, the College could alleviate at least some of these concerns quickly. What is the difference between the average SAT score and/or Williams GPA of athletes and non-athletes today and how has that difference changed over the last 20 years? If these differences are not too great and have not changed too much, then I would be less worried about Mike’s comments. Sunshine is always the best disinfectant.

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