More than you could possibly want to read about soon-to-be-former Track and Field Coach Ralph White here. I was struck by these comments:

Coach White knows the sport, but he doesn’t fit very well into the Williams culture. Others in the athletics department and administration think he is a little too aggressive come budget and admissions time and if you can’t get along with your bosses and peers you aren’t going to last long even if you are successful. His improprieties with having a more or less fake masters and the situation with the African family, certainly don’t help the situation, but I think those are more excuses than the real political reasons behind the decision.

The real story with Coach White is that he made the President very angry last year when he fought to have their track redone. He fights for what’s right for his athletes no matter what, but it backfired this time. Williams has a huge team (130+) and when everyone’s parents got involved writing letters and such, it embarrassed the President in front of the rich+ powerful alums. It has recently come to light that Pres. Schapiro actually sent an angry email after he was pressured to get the track redone, saying to find a way to get rid of coach white…(and hire a woman in his place. And now that that has come out, they are trying to make a financial settlement. It will be extremely interesting to see if CW calls them out or if he lets them get away with it.

There are rumours going around the DIII track community about a certain female athlete of his, steriods, and his relationship with this athlete.

The athletic directer approved the online degree in 2004 and the school actually gave him a raise for it. It is documented by an email. As for the coach from Benin, he recruited international students as he spoke 4 or 5 languages. Williams will give aid to needy international students and they now have 8 on the team. The problem is that the african coach did not know track but that also was approved by the AD because the school wanted diversity. The school created a special slot to hire a minority and gave him a small salary. The ad is on leave this semester and the person who replaced him was the one who did not want coach white there originally. The students had to fight to get him instead of a female just out of college.

True? Who knows? I discount the steroid/relationship rumors. Acting Athletic Director Lisa Melendy is certainly a dangerous person to tangle with. She was no friend of former baseball coach Dave Barnard either. Also, the Administration did not view Barnard as the most cooperative coach in the world. I suspect that his lobbying for better baseball facilities earned him no favors from Morty. Lesson for other coaches: Don’t fight the Administration or their favored underlings.

Apparently, President Schapiro sent a letter to track and field Ephs (only alumni or students too?) addressing the matter. Could someone paste it in the comments? Also, are the Friends of Williams Track and Field involved in this case? Their website is somewhat out of date.

For me, this story is interesting more for the revelations about the gold-plated nature of the Williams Athletic department. Sheehy is on leave for the entire year?! What is that about? Now, if this is some sort of medical/family emergency, that would be one thing. But, my understanding is that he just felt like taking some time off. With pay? (Perhaps he did not want to deal with either the Barnard or White firings.) Is being AD at a place like Williams so stressful? Doesn’t it leave enough time for book-writing?

Back in the day, Bob Peck was both athletic director and coach of the men’s basketball team. Why doesn’t the AD also coach?

It gets worse. In 2001, Lisa Melendy “retired from coaching to become the Ephs’ Senior Women’s Administrator in the Athletic Department.” What does she do all day? If she became the Athletic Director, would Williams promote someone to the position of Senior Men’s Administrator? Just asking!

I think that the athletic department at Williams has many more coaches and staff than it had 20 years ago. And yet, even though there are dozens of freshmen and sophomores who would love to play on, say, a JV baseball team, we don’t field one. Why not?

I don’t begrudge Williams spending X dollars on athletics, but I have many concerns about how that money is being spent. We should have more teams (especially JV and freshmen teams in popular sports like baseball and soccer) and more participation.

Print  •  Email