The Harvard waterpolo team's chances of capturing the Eastern championship in November may be soured by a ruling the NCAA is considering that would restrict the tournament to teams with varsity status.
Harvard has no varsity waterpolo team. The school has left the sport up to a student-organized club, whose recruiting program consists of Crimson notices and dining hall conversations.
"I've heard from various people (from otherteams) that the NCAA won't let us go to the Easterns unless we're a varsity team," Captain Phil Jonckheer said Monday. "That really puts us in a frustrating position. If the ruling goes into effect, we lose our greatest incentive for winning."
Jonckheer has a strong desire to pull off a winning season by taking the Easterns. He played on last year's squad that placed second in the East behind Yale.
"This team looks so much stronger than the one last year. There's a lot of people who played in high school. There's a lot of talent and good depth on the bench," he said.
Already a record 35 persons have turned out for the team, Jonckheer said. "A lot of them, especially the freshmen from the West Coast, consider Harvard a swimming school due to the accelerated program here," he continued. "The swimmers are turning out for waterpolo because they just want to have something else to do in the water."
The waterpolo team's club status has already affected the team's schedule this season. Jonckheer said he has turned down several invitations to play in large middle-Atlantic tournaments because of a tight pocketbook.
Last weekend the team had to cough up $60 to pay for the MIT tourney. Entry fees comparable to the MIT fee no doubt will severely limit the number of games this season. "We're going to be paying a lot of money to win trophies," Jonckheer said.
Funds for balls and headgear come from the team's own pockets. Jonckheer said the team will soon have to replace several waterpolo hats and balls that were stolen from the IAB over the summer.
Like other athletic clubs that represent Harvard in intercollegiate sports, the waterpolo team receives permission to use practice rooms from the Department of Athletics. Occasionally, the Department extends a word of sympathy for the tight financial situation.
There appears no easy or quick remedy to the plight of the waterpolo team, since the Department of Athletics has experienced severe budget cuts.