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[New mens basketball coach] Maker, who went on three foreign summer trips with Dartmouth, is looking forward to August when the Ephs will embark on a pre-planned two-week trip to Italy with the players who are returning from last year’s roster. NCAA rules prohibit first-years from pre-season trips. The Ephs return three starters from last year’s 17-8 team in senior co-captain Kevin Snyder a guard, junior center Joe Geoghegan, and junior swingman Blake Schultz.

“This will be a great opportunity for me to get to know the players and a chance for them to get to know me while we play some games and take part in cultural activities,” noted Maker. “The basketball will be important because it’ll be the first time I’ll see the players in game conditions, but getting to know them and sharing the cultural aspects of the trip and bonding will be just as important.”

1) How much does a trip like this cost? If the team gets free/subsidized housing/meals from the Italian teams it plays, I think that a lower bound could be $10,000. If not, the total bill might go as high as $50,000. Estimates?

2) Who is paying for it? I assume that it is either the College or a rich parent/alum. Surely not every member of the team could afford the expense.

3) Do other teams take similar trips? A key aspect of Title IX is that mens and womens sports must be treated equally. Does womens hoops take a similar trip? Why not?

4) Should the College pay for such a trip? My position is the same as always: pro-athlete and anti-tip. The College should spend whatever it takes (within reason) to give the best possible experience to all its students, athletes included. If, given budget constraints and other priorities, the Athletic Department wants to send the mens basketball team to Italy, then so be it.

5) Are the College’s athletic priorities reasonable? Not always. Consider the (non-existent) mens JV lacrosse team. There are lots of Ephs who would love to play lacrosse for Williams but who are not good enough to play varsity. (I had breakfast with two of them last week.) Why doesn’t Williams provide them with that opportunity, as it does for, say, mens soccer? The answer they got from the athletic department involved insurance costs and other expenses. Seems suspect to me, and to them.

I worry that folks in the athletic department, like Harry Sheehy ’75, spend too much money/attention on varsity athletes and not enough on JV/club athletes. The classic example of this was the debate over the placement of the new turf field. [Calling Mike Needham ’04 for commentary.] It is more important that Williams have a JV team in sport X then that it spend extra money on a fancy trip for the varsity in sport X.

UPDATE: A baseball parent writes:

The Varsity Baseball Team goes to Phoenix for Spring Training. I have no idea how much money the team gets from the school, but the parents get a polite letter from the coach asking for money. A range (of amount) is suggested and you are asked to do your best. When we sent the check in, (I think it was around $1,000, and that was at the high end) we sent a note asking the coach to let us know if there was a player that needed to be funded. I think as it turned out, every player was able to pony up something. The boys were also asked to sell a certain amount of chocolate. (this seemed silly, but I guess it adds up)

As well, the team has an organized parents group. We donated to that, too, and that money took care of all the snacks and drinks, as well as a dinner or two. Accommodations were decent, but not expensive, and meals, drive-thru more often than not. And all the visiting parents end up taking several boys out for meals at least twice. Last spring, a couple of parents of seniors treated (all the seniors) to a dinner and baseball game.

My son said that every player seemed to have money of his own for meals.

This is consistent with what I have heard about other teams like track and swimming. But two weeks in Italy is, I would guess, much more expensive than two weeks in Phoenix.

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