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A student-faculty athletic advisory committee met Friday to discuss Ivy League plans to raise the bar on admissions policies and modify a rule forcing athletes to take time off from sports.
The committee also discussed space and finance constraints felt by Harvard’s athletic department.
Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis ’68 and Athletic Director Robert L. Scalise reported to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ Standing Committee on Athletic Sports a month before the Council of Ivy Group Presidents will meet to set athletic policy for the upcoming year.
Lewis and Scalise expressed concerns about maintaining competitiveness in the face of directives from the presidents to increase academic standards, and presented Harvard’s plan to lessen the impact of seven weeks of rest time the presidents mandated last year.
The Ivy League remains a model of balance between academic excellence and athletic competitiveness, they said.
“There’s been a lot of energy diverted to apologize and control for something that we don’t think deserves any apologies,” Lewis said.
“We are missing the opportunity of promoting the league and Harvard’s approach to athletics as a model,” Scalise told the committee.
Lewis said that the presidents have asked the league committees to consider ways to raise the minimum academic standard all athletes must meet to gain admission. Lewis outlined his own plan to make the academic profile of athletes more resemble that of the student body as a whole.
Lewis said that the League will also consider two modified versions of the seven week rule, the measure implemented by the league this past year which required teams to adopt a seven week rest period without practice. He said he is proposing that the 49 rest days be spread over the course of the year.
Committee member Wes Kauble ’06, said that while he welcomed Lewis’ proposed modification, it doesn’t go far enough.
“I see what the presidents’ views are concerning it...I think that they realized that what they did was flawed,” Kauble said. “I would advocate that the moratorium be completely lifted.”
“There definitely needs to be a change,” he said.
Lewis wrote in an e-mail that he hopes his and his committee’s recommendation will carry some weight. But the current group of presidents have themselves taken an active role in policymaking, Lewis wrote.
“I know President [Lawrence H.] Summers is well-informed on these matters and is quite interested in them,” Lewis said. “The Ivy presidents, including President Summers, have taken a strong and direct interest in athletic policy matters, and that is part of what has made the process of bringing these proposals to a consensus in the League a lengthy and difficult matter.”
In addition to the discussion of Ivy matters, Lewis and Scalise also briefed the committee on issues regarding Harvard’s facilities and finances.
The University is facing a both a space and budget crunch. It is also in the early stages of planning a new academic campus across the river in Allston, where the bulk of Harvard’s sporting facilities reside.
Several potential plans for the campus would involve relocation of athletic fields and facilities.
Scalise said that athletes’ needs should be considered in any plans for this campus.
Scalise and Lewis said that the University must be careful to avoid putting additional strain on college athletes, some of whom already find the distance to the athletic fields to be difficult.
“With greater distances athletes would be further removed from college life,” Lewis said.
But Scalise said the athletic department will consider creative possibilities for use of the Allston land.
“We have big dreams if people want to do things for athletics,” Scalise said.
The two also touched on the issue of renovations to the Malkin Athletic Center (MAC), which have been under discussion for several years.
Scalise told the committee that the administration appears to be supportive of necessary renovations.
Dean of the Faculty William C. Kirby wrote in an e-mail yesterday that planning on the MAC is going forward.
“It is now again in need of renovation and renewal, and we are in the early stages of planning just that,” Kirby said. “It is a complex process, since the expansion of recreational athletic space—one of our aims—has implications also for the athletic facilities across the river.”
—Staff writer David B. Rochelson ’05 can be reached at email@example.com.
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