Phil Smith ’55 is quoted in an editorial on athletic recruitment.

In a perfect world, all students would be admitted according to the same standard. But in the real world, universities across America give athletes a break. A 2001 book, “The Game of Life,” documented this double standard even at Ivy League and other selective schools: “Athletic recruiting is the biggest form of affirmative action in American higher education, even at schools such as ours,” says Philip Smith, retired dean of admissions at Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., in the book.

The more that I find out about this topic, the less true that I think Smith’s claim is. As Dave Barnard documents pretty convincingly, the size of the preference given to (potential) varsity athletes just isn’t that large, especially outside of some specific sports (football and hockey being two of the most important).

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