Everyone’s winter break reading should include Dave Barnard’s piece on admissions and athletics at Williams. Barnard claims that:
What we have witnessed since the publication of The Game of Life is a major unilateral shift in Williams’ policy pertaining to athletic priority admissions standards. With the rest of the league, including Amherst, now matriculating more athletes per sport at lower academic levels – unless we act to correct the situation – it is simply a matter of time before our teams are significantly less competitive.
As always, my concern is not just with the Williams athletes that we see today, but with those students who wanted to be athletes but were not good enough to make the team because of the presence of “tips.” Where are the 3 students who wanted to play mens varsity basketball but where not good enough to make the team? Without tips, they might be playing for Williams today. I have little doubt that they would rather play for a .500 team than cheer for a national champion.
But a more important point is that, agree with him or not, Barnard demonstrates in this piece as well as his other writings that he is a serious thinker and more than an intellectual peer of the students he coaches and the (few but vocal) academic faculty who sneer at him. Williams needs more faculty, both academic and athletic, who are publicly engaged with controversial issues of concern to the Williams community.