The National Collegiate Athletic Association's hockey tournament is a lopsided affair held every year pitting the two top teams from the East against two similarly ranked squads from the awesome Western Hockey League. In the 15-year history of the event, overmatched Eastern teams have managed to win the collegiate championship just twice.
Western powerhouses--packed with Canadian players--have taken the title eight years running. Since 1954, Colorado, Denver, Michigan Tech, and other members from the WHL have lost just one tournament game to their woefully weak opponents from the other side of the Mississippi.
Even More Lopsidedness This Year
The NCAA's 1963 version of a national hockey championship (held in Boston's own McHugh Forum next week-end) promises to be even more one-sided than ever since Harvard--currently the top team in the East--has refused to participate.
The University's refusal to allow its hockey team to participate in the NCAA championships goes back to 1953, when North Dakota reportedly used a 32-year-old defenseman in its tournament line-up.
Last Wednesday, the Faculty Committee on Athletics under Director Thomas D. Bolles simply reaffirmed its 1962 stand when it blasted the Western Hockey League for "the heavy recruiting of Canadian players."
It is hard to refute the Committee's objections to the Canadian recruiting and "spirit of professionalism" found in the WHL. This season's Western NCAA contenders are classic examples of both characteristics.
Denver and UND Full of Canadians
Denver University will bring 17 Canadians out of a 19 man squad to the tournament this year and North Dakota can hardly be congratulated for limiting itself to 15 Canadians out of 20 skaters.
But the Committee's real objection can't be the number of Canadians playing on a team. Harvard played Clarkson twice this season--a team that consists of one American and 20 Canadian hockey players.
Academic standards is another means of elimination ruled out by the varsity's two contests with Clarkson. The Golden Knights' Jone Yankee played at Boston College until he was declared scholastically ineligible.
WHL Not Real Basis for Complaint
The Faculty Committee's desire to avoid "widely publicized and commercially successful teams made up of heavily subsidized specialists" is an admirable one. But, once again, the University's complaint can't be with the WHL as such since the varsity was allowed to play Colorado and Minnesota over the last two seasons.
In reply to these arguments, the Athletic Department has said that regular seasonal contests differ from a practice of "extending our season towards a post-season event whose general effect and direction we do not like." Director Bolles has said that the Committee should "try to judge each situation on its merits." If this statement implies a general policy, why is the varsity swimming team allowed to compete in the NCAA championships year after year? This season, the Crimson will face such swimming powers as Ohio State and Southern California at the National Collegiate Championships in North Carolina.
Both Schools "Big Time"
Both of these schools are virtual symbols of the "bigtime commercially successful sport" objected to by the Committee. Along similar lines, Harvard's track team just finished competing against powerful Villanova in the IC4A Championships last Saturday. The Wildcats are well known for their emphasis upon fine track and field squads.
The purpose of a reasonable and desirable athletic program is, as the Faculty Committee maintains, to provide "the opportunity for representative students to take part in athletics." Furthermore, the Committee's stand against commercialism in College athletics is a courageous one. Its consistency is questionable.