Do All Athletic Teams Get Equal Support?

Director of Athletics William J. Cleary '56 directs a multi-million dollar annual budget. He oversees 40 intercollegiate sports and hundreds of student-athletes.

But the athletic department's methods for doling out funds to those teams remains a mystery to coaches and players. And Cleary and his top two lieutenants say they want it that way.

Athletic department official say that all the intercollegiate sports they organize receive relatively equal amounts of funding and support. But the only evidence they offer is their word.

In fact, Cleary and Francis J. Toland, who administers the department's finances, are so secretive about the budget that its numbers are unknown even to the members of the faculty committee overseeing the department.

"It has always been our policy not to divulge those numbers," Toland says.


"It's a longstanding policy, it's worked and if it ain't broke, don't fix it," says Cleary.

Cleary and Toland's close-to-the-vest handling of the budget is indicative of how they manage a department that has a small staff but enormous scope. Harvard has more student-athletes than any Division I school in the country.

While they have no figures to verify their claims, many coaches and players say that high-profile sports like football and men's hockey receive more funding and greater support from the Department of Athletics than other sports do.

Many coaches and students acknowledge a hierarchy among sports and say that certain teams enjoy luxu- ries--at Harvard's expense--that others onlydream of. The men's baseball team, for example,travels through the South on a spring break roadtrip, flying from city to city and staying inhotels.

Men's water polo, on the other hand, rarelytravels farther south than Providence, R.I. Andthey take vans.

Even more dramatic a case of inequity concernsthe national championship teams of men's hockeyand women's lacrosse, in 1989 and 1990,respectively. Under President Bush, NCAA champswere regularly invited to the White House aftertheir win.

When then-Coach Cleary led his hockey team toan overtime win in the national finals, theathletic department paid for the team to travel toWashington. The lacrosse team, however, was toldthat there weren't enough funds to bankroll theirtrip. They did not go.

Cleary insists that he and his predecessor,John P. Reardon, have treated teams fairly withregards to budgeting. When pressed on details,however, he won't elaborate.

"I think a lot of what you hear about budgetingis perception, not reality," says Patricia W.Henry, senior associate director of athletics.

But, without budget details, perception is theonly reality for many coaches and players.

Coaches and players say the hierarchy manifestsitself in access to choice practice times and tothe training room, as well as in the size ofalumni donations.