The Deans of admission for both Harvard and Yale downplayed yesterday the significance of a recent letter from Yale President Kingman Brewster Jr. which recommended encouraging scholar athletes who apply to Yale.
Brewster's letter, sent to Worth David, dean of the undergraduate admissions at Yale on November 15, outlined the Yale Corporation's wish that "everyone engaged in the admissions process give positive weight to athletic distinction, if an applicant is otherwise qualified."
David said yesterday the letter did not mark a change in Yale's selection process. David said Yale had always favored "special interest" students and Brewster's letter was a reaffirmation of that policy.
"The statement itself was prompted by a notion held by our alumni that athletic talent was a liability [in the selection process]." David said. "That's not the case."
"I don't think Yale is going to go off the deep end," L. Fred Jewett '57, Harvard's dean of admissions, said yesterday. Jewett said he felt the Brewster letter would not mean a substantial or radical change in Yale policy.
"If it were a major change--if they were to give some huge significance to athletics--I'd oppose it," Jewett said.
Jewett said the admissions process at Ivy League schools for athletes was policed internally, and that admissions decisions were the responsibility of the faculty and admissions departments of the respective schools.
Only when violations of recruiting practices or the Ivy Group's financial aid policy occur can external action be taken, Jewett said.
"We will probably see more athletes applying," David said, adding that Yale alumni might recruit more extensively. He said that Yale would not change its requirements if more athletes applied.
David did concede that the letter marked the first time Brewster and the Yale Corporation had defined the admissions policy towards athletes.
A Little Embarrassed
"They're [Yale] a little bit embarrassed by this," Seamus P. Malin, director of financial aid at Harvard, said last night. "Anytime you mention athletics it gets blown up."
Malin said, "I don't quite know what to make of Yale. Yale has a habit of large public pronouncements of policy--the function of which I never understood."
Malin said Harvard's policy towards athletic recruitment was one of the toughest in the League.