The Harvard University athletic program was ranked 41st by Sports Illustrated in its Oct. 7 “America’s Best Sports Colleges” issue, just behind such traditional athletic powerhouses as Virginia, Wisconsin and Penn Sate.
Harvard received the highest rank among the Ivy League. Princeton and Penn were 56th and 72nd respectively. The school finished second among New England institutions, trailing only 31st-ranked UConn.
Harvard was also the highest-ranked school without a Division I-A football program.
Texas topped the magazine’s list. Stanford, Oklahoma, Florida and South Carolina rounded out the top five.
The Sports Illustrated (SI) write-up reads, “Most varsity teams of any school (41); hockey finished No. 13; Ivy Champ [football] team had its first perfect season (9-0) since 1913.”
Schools were ranked on the basis of criteria that include 2001-02 varsity performance and the number of varsity, club and intramural sports at each school. Also factoring in were the quality of facilities and the degree of athletic spirit present on campus.
Harvard assistant athletic director for sports and media relations Joe Veneziano said he was pleased at SI’s ranking.
“Using the criteria they used, the placement is good.” Veneziano said. “It’s really more of a measurement of your recent athletic season, especially the major sports, than of the entire program.”
However, Veneziano said it was “kind of sketchy” that SI ranked Harvard 41st, in light of the school’s 41 varsity teams, leading the nation.
“It’s a little tongue-in-cheek,” he said. “But we are privileged to be first in that category. It speaks to the quality and breadth of our program.”
The SI list was unique in that it considered a school’s entire athletic environment. While SI placed more importance on major sports like football, it considered everything from intramural (IM) participation to attendance at college sporting events in its rankings.
Kirkland House IM director Kirstin Hoelting praised the decision to include intramurals in the survey.
“IMs really provides a sense of spirit and community for the whole house.” Hoelting said. “They make your overall experience here much better. People need to take notice of all that Harvard athletics has to offer.”
Veneziano said the high ranking will only help Harvard’s athletic program in the future.
“The ranking is good for Harvard. It really brings the Crimson program into the public eye.”