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To the Editors of the CRIMSON:
Late last fall, the newspapers in the Cincinnati area carried a story concerning the plans of Harvard College to "de-emphasize" football (although I am curious to learn how it had been "emphasized" in the last few years). And on yesterday, they carried the story that Art Valpey had resigned his coaching position at Harvard to take another at the University of Connecticut. Although I have not bad the opportunity to poll the alumni in this area, I am certain that the majority received both reports with a great deal of disappointment, as well as resentment.
When an athletic coach leaves a position at a college with the prestige of Harvard to go to a smaller and much less known college, at a 40 percent reduction in salary, something in the situation is seriously amiss. The reasons undoubtedly lie much deeper than one bad season in the win and loss column. And I for one feel that the time is long past when the administration and athletic director should make clear just what their plans and motives are.
The reports which have issued from Cambridge indicate that Valpey decided that he could no longer do a job commensurate with his ability under the policies formulated by athletic director Bingham and his associates in the administration. There can be no denying that in recent years, there has been a sustained effort to discredit intercollegiate competition by Harvard teams and to treat such sports as football as a "necessary evil."
The attitude seems to prevail in the Harvard administration that high academic standards and a winning football team are simply impossible of reconciliation. They need reflect but a moment to see that this is not a unique theory: the University of Chicago abandoned intercollegiate athletic competition some years back, and I see no tangible proof of greater academic strides since then. Obviously, I do not propose that it is possible to assemble eleven Barry Woods or Whizzer Whites. However, I seriously question whether Harvard's academic superiority over its fellow institutions is equal to its exhibited inferiority on the athletic field. And the administration certainly cannot have too much respect for the intelligence of its graduates if it thinks that the alumni are willing to accept as a solution to the problem a periodic change in athletic coaches.
The time has come when the College should make a decision one way or the other on the question of intercollegiate athletics--either abandon them altogether, or give them enough importance so that the Harvard teams can compete on an equal basis with the teams which they have traditionally scheduled. Mr. Bingham can no longer hide behind the artifice of hiring and firing of coaches every couple of years. He is the athletic director, and with him lies the responsibility of organizing an athletic program which is workable, and of making a forthright statement to the student body and alumni as to just what his policies are and will be in the future.
I am fully aware that these decisions do not lie wholly within the jurisdiction of Mr. Bingham. It has been announced that a report on the football situation at Harvard has been presented to the governing board of the University for its consideration. And it is the responsibility of these men to give the problem adequate consideration, and if it is not within their personal experience to handle such a matter, they should seek professional advice, and make their recommendations accordingly.
I think I can speak for a large segment of the alumni when I say that I do sincerely hope that these men see fit to maintain a respectable intercollegiate athletic program at Harvard College. They will search far before they will find a more cohesive force among a graduate body whose loyalty and generosity have helped make Harvard University an outstanding educational institution. Donald E. Greenholz '44
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