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As soon as you entered Cornell's Lynah Rink last Saturday morning, the attendants approached you. "Were you invited to this practice?" they asked. You weren't. "Then you'll have to leave. This is a closed practice."
According to Ivy League rules, no member was allowed to hold any sort of formal practice until yesterday. But Saturday morning, in Ithaca, New York, Cornell's Ivy League and Eastern championship hockey team was holding a closed practice, in flagrant violation of League regulations. Cornell coach Ned Harkness has been unethical for several years. Now he is illegal, and it is time for Cornell to be penalized.
Clearly against Ivy Rules
The regulations covering pre-season drills are clearly defined. Prior to October 22, hockey squads are allowed to practice informally, under supervision of their captains, but the practice is limited to skating. No sticks, pads, pucks or equipment are allowed. The coach is barred from the premises.
Harkness violated each regulation openly and knowingly last Saturday. His team was scrimmaging in full equipment, and he was observing from the stands. Harkness explained that the group was Cornell's freshman team. Whether it was or not is questionable, but the regulation covers freshman practice as well. No matter how Harkness chooses to rationalize his behavior, the violation remains. The Ivy group has no supervisor to arbitrate in such circumstances, and it is mandatory that there be one if the Ivy League is to remain faithful to its principles.
From Cornell's point of view. Harkness is the best thing ever to grace its athletic program. In 1959, the Big Red suffered through a 0-10 season, losing to Harvard 18-0 and 13-0. The same thing happened the next year, and Cornell was the laughingstock of the League. They lost 26 straight Ivy games. They had only two Canadians on the squad.
The solution was clear. Go to Canada, recruit wholesale, and if your prospects don't look as though they can quality for the liberal arts or engineering schools, well, Cornell had fine agriculture and hotel administration schools. Harkness was brought in, and Cornell was golden.
Almost immediately, the Big Red found a winning record. In 1965, it finished second to Brown. It won the title a year later, and has held it ever since. The secret? Last year, not one member of the varsity squad was an American. In 1967, there was only one, and he was a Massachusetts boy who never played.
So the Canadian recruiting program has rocketed Cornell to Ivy dominance and national prominence. The Big Red was the NCAA champion three years ago, and it will be a frequent participant at the nationals as long as Harkness recruits successfully. It isn't really in the Ivy League tradition to raid Canada, but it isn't illegal either. Holding early practice is illegal, however, and if the Ivy League is to remain true to its principles of moderate athletic emphasis Harkness must be stopped.
Rules Lack Enforcement
What the League needs is a front office with integrity that will enforce the rules strictly and without delay. Under the present regulations. Cornell is subject to athletic probation for what it was doing at Lynah Rink last Saturday. Probation means that the squad will not be allowed to compete in ECAC or NCAA tournaments, and may be ineligible for the Ivy title. Cornell began "shamatcurism" within the Ivies. Penn is continuing it now, and if both schools are winked at, or allowed to escape with slaps on their wrists, the Ivy League will be little more than a hypocritical, pompous shell.
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