Philosophical Teammates, Institutional Foes

When it comes to athletics, you would be hard pressed to come up with two more apparently contrasting figures than the current presidents of Yale and Harvard. Harvard president Derek C. Bok's tall, lean and rugged build reflects his undergraduate days at Stanford where he played varsity basketball. In an interview shortly after assuming the presidency in 1971. Bok recalled sitting on the bench watching George Yardley temporarily set the all time scoring record for the Pacific Coast Conference. I did not play a starring role in college" he said, "but I was an enthusiastic participant.

Yale's A Bartlett Giamatti, by contrast, has never been a a joke. He's a pure and simple fan--an inveterate Red Sox (and Yale, of course) booster Upon announcement of his appointment in 1977, he joked All lever wanted to be president of was the American League.

But while Bok and Giamatti have such different athletic backgrounds at least as far as athletics at their respective institutions go, the two presidents are philosophical teammates. In an intercollegiate sports world increasingly taught with scandal and money woes they seem almost naive. They support the time honored cliche that although college sports can plat an important role academics should always come first.

Gtamath has always maintained a staunchly it traditionalist view towards college athletics. He really laid his cards on the table during his address to the Association of Yale Alumni on April 11, 1980 Indeed, after he finished talking many Bulldog boosters had to be pretty unhappy.

Critizing the dangerous slide towards professionalism that college sports was taking. Gramatti asserted that sports in the Ivy League had gollen out of hand, teaching "a lack of proportion." Gramatti said. "The result of the disproportion is, in my opinion, that some students, and not a trivial number, spend for too much time with the encouragement of the institutions, on athletic pursuits."


Fine outspoken Yale President accordingly listed a number of areas ape for reform in the Ivy rules. He told his audience that the wanted to limit off-campus recruiting see changes made in the opposite direction.

In the long run, Yale officials agree. Gramatti's initiative was a clear warning about the potential patalls of intercollegiate athletics, and he placed some next ideas out on the table. In fact, all the Ivy presidents as a group are now discussing the issues Giamatti raised.

But the immediate impact of Giamatti's remarks was to ruffle a lot of feathers among Yale alumni Although they all agreed with his ideals, they considered his proposals--which included limiting recruiting somewhat unrealistic. And more important, they were concerned that Gramatti might be contemplating some sort of unilateral action to push through these new-fangled ideas.

"The initial impact on the coaches was negative because we were concerned how people would interpret" the address, explains longtime. Yale football coach Carn Cozza, adding flatly: "I'm sure other teams have used it against us in recruiting."

Cozza explains that Giamatti was misguided in his desired reforms. "He can't be expected to be an expert on all issues," he says, stressing the need to be extra careful in boldly speaking out on an issue like intercollegiate sports which has such a strong hold on public attention.

Giamatti for his part seemed peeved over the original reaction to his plans. "I was supposed to have called for our athletics to be deemphasized a word I never used any more than I would ever employ that vile phrase" student athlete," he said in an interview with Sports Illustrated.

After the original tutor over the speech subsided. Cozza as do other Yale athletic officials acknowledges that people realized that they had probably read too much into Giamatti's broad text. Yale officials like Cozza and athletic director for Frank Ryan maintain that Giamatti has always been a strong sports enthusiast. They point out that he regularly attends Yale sporting events be never indicated he wanted to do anything unilaterally and in general he wants to lessen the pressures facing the athletes. Although the speech wasn't very popular. Ryan admits that Giamatti merely wanted to clarify. Yale's perspective on athletics.

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Although Bok agrees with Giamatti's general stance on college athletics, he hasn't taken such a hard lining stance. He feels that "what we retrying to do is walk a middle path between the big athletics powers with all the abuses that that entails, of schools like Swarthmore or Cal Tech where athletics is simply on a lower level of intercollegiate play. "Bok thinks that Harvard has so far followed this path and is guarded fairly well against the pressure of big-time college sports.

But while generally mirroring Giamatti's theories about "pure" athletic programs. Bok feels that recruiting shouldn't be the major focus of specific reforms. Rather, Bok says he is particularly worried about the intensity of scheduling and practicing and the pressures affecting the admissions process. He especially warns against Harvard's having to admit students "who are not thoroughly representative of the student body as a whole."