Hockey Will Not Play Teams Using Freshmen
In the future, Harvard's athletic department will not schedule hockey games with colleges which "plan to use" freshmen in varsity competition, according to a press release issued by the Sports Information Office last night.
Robert B. Watson, director of athletics, stated yesterday that Harvard will institute this policy beginning with the 1972-73 schedule. The decision could affect Harvard's traditional participation in the Beanpot Tournament. At the moment, Northeastern, University of New Hampshire, Army, and Colgate are planning on elevating freshmen players into the varsity level.
The ECAC voted last spring to permit freshmen participation in varsity hockey for the first time. Ivy League rules, however, prohibit Ivy schools from following the ECAC edict.
The key phrase in Watson's statement is that he has banned participation with teams that "plan to use freshmen." Boston University's athletic administration has adopted a policy which permits participation of freshmen, but the Terriers are presently not planning to use them.
Watson's decision does not indicate whether the Terriers' "maybe" policy would eliminate them from Harvard's schedule.
This season's schedule will remain unaffected. "Cancellation of this year's games would accomplish nothing but disappointment for our hockey players," Watson said, "because it appears that we would be unable to fill the vacated dates."
Harvard is scheduled to meet Army, Boston University, New Hampshire, and Northeastern during the season.
However, Watson outlined the Crimson's new policy of scheduling in the hope that pressure could be placed upon schools to reverse their policies regarding freshmen. "Acting alone, it does not appear we could effectively alter the course of events," Watson said. "But there are firm indications that a number of colleges will take a strong position on this matter next year, and we want to be among them."
Dartmouth College announced yesterday that it would cancel all games scheduled this winter with schools that permit freshmen eligibility.
Watson indicated yesterday that Harvard would not use freshmen players even if the Ivy League rescinds its ruling and most schools adapt to the new guideline.
"Ice hockey practice begins in mid-October less than a month after the start of classes, and the season extends through 24 contests into March. We feel it is academically unsound to thrust freshmen into such a pressurized activity before they have had time to make their academic adjustment." Watson said.
"Further...it tends to reduce the opportunities for inter-collegiate competition, to restrict those opportunities to only the most highly skilled athletes, and to increase the intensity of recruiting."
"We feel so deeply that the ECAC legislation permitting freshmen to play hockey will do significant harm to the sport and ultimately to our own program, that we feel compelled to take this position." Watson said.