Yale Athletics

Sports at Yale, Athletics at Yale, Yale University Athletics

We came across an outstanding letter to the editor in response to a misinformed editorial in “The Yale Daily News.” The letter was written by Yale’s baseball coach.

There was an editorial yesterday in “The Yale Daily News” that is generating a bit of buzz. The piece was written by Cole Aronson and it’s entitled “Admissions and Athletics.” Aronson begins the piece with a headline grabber: “Yale should stop recruiting athletes. Nothing against sports — except that sports have nothing to do with the mission of a college as I see it.” We couldn’t help but read on. But much to our chagrin, Mr. Aronson’s opinions were not grounded in fact. Rather, his opinions seemed to be grounded in — we suspect — his own mediocrity at athletics.

Aronson essentially makes the point that athletics teach values but these values can be learned in any academic pursuit, like poetry. He argues that star basketball players can barely speak English on “ESPN” (which is, of course, a racist dog whistle) and that Yale is doing itself a great disservice by recruiting athletes. We did happen to gag a few times while reading the piece and while initially we suspected it was because of a man’s super strong cologne to our left, we realized the cause was likelier Mr. Aronson’s arrogant piece in which he essentially argues that sports don’t require brains. Has he ever played a team sport where strategy and analytics can be key components, like basketball or water polo? Has he ever competed in an individual sport where shaving off time can come down to a mastery of physics and nutrition, like swimming and running? If he did, he clearly didn’t play these sports very well.

We salute Yale baseball coach John Stuper for his excellent critique of a student’s misguided editorial on Yale athletes.

But rather than ridicule Mr. Aronson’s editorial, let’s leave that for the Yale head baseball coach, John Stuper. In a letter to the editor that appears on the pages of today’s “Yale Daily News,” Stuper writes, “As a former English teacher, I found Cole Aronson’s ’18 op-ed poorly written with absolutely no facts to support his assertions. I taught English at a community college; his article would have earned a C- in a composition class. I am tired of our athletes being labeled this way. Aronson cites ESPN, alluding to poor grammar from a star center. What does that have to do with athletes at Yale?”

Stuper goes on, “Aronson also has no idea how Yale admissions works. A committee reviews each application and decides if a student-athlete would not only survive but thrive. In 24 years, I have had three young men not get their degrees. One of them was drafted after his junior year and is currently in professional baseball. Seven junior draftees have returned and finished their degrees. Admissions looks at athletes with the same discerning eye as other applicants. It doesn’t matter if I tell them a recruit is the next Derek Jeter; he will not gain admission unless they are convinced he belongs here. In no other area of life — other than the military — are leaders groomed more than in athletics. I have spoken to many employers who have chosen college athletes on the basis that they were part of a team. All who criticize athletic recruitment should take 20 hours out of their week and devote it to something other than academics. Become a runner. Swim laps. Shoot baskets for 20 hours. The activity isn’t important. See what that does to your GPA. I think it will give students a deeper appreciation for the world of the Yale athlete.”

Amen, John Stuper. We couldn’t have said it any better ourselves and we salute all of your hard work in shaping the great minds — and leaders — of tomorrow.

Ivy League Early Athletic Recruiting

Ivy League Recruiting, Ivy League Athletic Recruits, Ivy League Athletic Recruiting

There’s a good piece in “The Dartmouth” on potential new NCAA legislation.

There’s a great piece out in “The Dartmouth,” America’s oldest college newspaper, about new legislation that could put to an end efforts by Ivy League and other athletic coaches to recruit student-athletes for their teams prior to the junior year of high school. For those scratching their heads because they think that Ivy League and other college coaches across America are currently not allowed to contact student-athletes before junior year as per NCAA regulations, you have reason to scratch your heads. You’re right. But there are technicalities that many coaches capitalize on to circumvent these very regulations, to gain a competitive advantage.

As per Alex Leibowitz’s piece for “The Dartmouth” entitled “Ivy League proposes new legislation to combat early recruiting,” “On Sept. 21, the Ivy League proposed new legislation to the NCAA to combat early recruiting. If approved, the legislation would close the various loopholes that allow coaches to make contact with recruits before their junior year. Instead, recruiting, especially through phone calls and conversations at sports camps or clinics, would be prohibited until Sept. 1 of a student’s junior year of high school…The legislation would prevent coaches from giving young recruits promises about financial aid and help with admission. Furthermore, coaches may not talk to players about recruiting at camps and clinics, call or receive a call from younger players. The concept behind this legislation is that it tightens up the rules about early recruiting already on the books, which differ among NCAA Division I sports but allow early recruits to visit campuses through an ‘unofficial visit not paid for by the institution’ according to the NCAA.”

We firmly stand behind this proposed new legislation to close these loopholes that allow college coaches to recruit 13 year-old quarterbacks (hi Lane Kiffin of Alabama!). These coaches are exploiting the system, and they’re giving themselves an unfair competitive advantage. Let’s even this playing field and make it so that no coach — no matter their sport or school — can make contact with a student athlete before their junior year of high school. It simply isn’t necessary and the number of coaches exploiting these loopholes is one too many.

Ivy League Preseason Football Rankings

Ivy League Football, Ivy League Football Rankings, Ranking of Ivy League Football Teams

It is our prediction that Dartmouth College, ranked second in the 2015 Ivy League Football Preseason Media Poll, will upset Harvard this year and reclaim the Ivy League football title. You heard it here first.

It’s that time of year again. It’s time for some Ivy League football action and, for yet another year in a row, we’d like to report on the Ivy League football preseason rankings. And for those of you who are wondering why we write about Ivy League football, know that we write about all things Ivy League-related and it should be noted that the Ivy League was first formed as a football league. That’s right. A football league. Anyhow, Harvard, the defending Ivy League champion, enters the season as the preseason favorite to win it all again, securing 130 points (and 11 first place votes) in the 2015 Ivy League Football Preseason Media Poll. Dartmouth College, a university that has historically had the Ivy League’s strongest football team, found itself in unfamiliar territory of late, landing second in the preseason poll, buoyed by their resurgence last year and fight for the Ivy League crown that lasted through the final week of action. Upstart Dartmouth secured 116 points in the preseason poll, along with four first place votes. Well deserved indeed.

Finishing third in this year’s preseason poll is Yale University, with 98 points and one first place vote. Princeton University finished in fourth place with 82 points but no first place votes. Brown University finished in fifth with 80 points and one first place vote. The University of Pennsylvania, which has been a football powerhouse for much of the twenty first century but has fallen off a bit of late, finished in sixth place, with 51 points and no first place votes. Columbia University, which will be led by first-year Lions coach Al Bagnoli (the coach who led Penn through all of those successes) finished seventh in the preseason poll, with 29 points and no first place votes. Cornell University finished in last, with 26 points and no first place votes.

We’re excited to see what’s in store for this Ivy League football season. Will Dartmouth College reclaim the Ivy League crown, something that has eluded the College on the Hill for many years? Will Al Bagnoli lead a resurgence for Columbia, a university that claimed the Rose Bowl title in 1934 under the masterful play of our dear friend, and an inspiration for the formation of Ivy Coach over a quarter century ago, Cliff Montgomery? Will Harvard win it all again? We’re pumped to see it all play out on the gridiron.

Ivy League Barrier Breaker

Ivy League Barrier Breakers, Ivy League Lax, Ivy League Lacrosse

A Dartmouth lacrosse goalie has broken a barrier in Major League Lacrosse. Devon Wills has become the first woman to sign with a MLL team.

Former Dartmouth College All-American and two-time Women’s World Cup gold medalist Devon Wills has broken a significant barrier in sport. Today, Wills became the first woman to ever sign with a Major League Lacrosse team when the New York Lizards (formerly the Long Island Lizards) signed her to a contract. According to an article on Devon Wills on “Dartmouth Sports,” “Fresh off leading the US to its second straight FIL World Cup this summer in Oshawa, Ontario, Wills will now have an opportunity to compete for a roster spot this April when the Lizards’ training camp begins. A three-time All-American and Ivy League First Team player, Wills has a wealth of big-game experience, including leading the Big Green to the Final Four in 2005 and 2006 as well as winning gold at the World Cup in 2009 and 2013. In her first World Cup, Wills was named the Player of the Match in the championship game, helping the US beat Australia while making eight saves along the way.”

As you may note, the Lizards have broken barriers before when they signed our friend the first openly gay professional team sport athlete (who was originally drafted by the Boston Cannons). He never played in a game for the Cannons, but he did suit up and play for the Lizards. This player, Andrew Goldstein, was also an All-American goalie out of Dartmouth College and he happened to play at the same time as Wills. We salute the Lizards for breaking barriers not once but twice with not one but two Dartmouth lacrosse goalies. What chutzpah! And Ivy Coach is the first to report this connection, even beating “Outsports” and “Towleroad” to press.

Ivy League Athletic Recruiting

Ivy League Recruiting, Recruiting in Ivy League Athletics, Ivy League Athlete Recruitment

If you’re a prospective swimmer at Princeton, be sure to go through their meet results. Scan those heat sheets! See how your times stack up. Also, check out the school records to see where you stand. It’s one of the benefits of timed sports — athletes can know just where they stand (photo credit: Andreas Praefcke).

Want an Ivy League athletic recruiting tip? Do your research. What do we mean? Well, let’s say that you’re a rising high school senior who hopes to swim in college. Specifically, you’d like to attend Princeton. You’re a backstroker who goes a 1:02 in the 100 back and a 2:12 for the 200 back. Alright, so we’ve got some data points. Let’s start researching!

At Princeton University, the all-time varsity record in the 100 backstroke is held by Lisa Boyce. She swam the event in 54.10 (quite a bit faster than 1:02). But just because the record-holder has a faster time than you doesn’t mean in itself that the Princeton coach wouldn’t be interested. That would be quite foolish. But we’re just trying to give you some benchmarks to better understand where you fit in. With a time of 56.52, Karen Wang has the tenth fastest time in Princeton’s history. It’s still a far cry from 1:02, but at least we’re getting closer. In the 200 back, the all-time record is held by Meredith Monroe with a time of 1:55.58. Ming Ong went the tenth fastest time in Princeton’s history with a time of 2:03.02. So you’re nine seconds slower in the 200 than the tenth fastest swimmer in Princeton’s history.

Alright, but that’s just the fastest times in Princeton women’s swimming history. For the really great information, it’s important to check out the schedule / results. Under the results, you can see how your times compare to other Princeton swimmers in actual meets. You should literally be going through the heat sheets! We dove through a few meet results and after reviewing seed times and results of Princeton women’s swimmers, a 1:02 isn’t that far off the pace. But it’s not good enough to warrant getting recruited.

In a few meets, Princeton’s slowest 100 backstroker went a 1:01. In the 200 back in the few heat sheets we scanned through, Princeton’s slowest female swam a 2:10…so you’re definitely not that far off the pace. Again, not good enough to get recruited but, if you improve your times a little, you might be able to hold your own on the team.

Was this helpful as you begin to think about the Ivy League athletic recruiting process? Let us know your thoughts and ask your questions about Ivy League athletics here!

Athletes and College Admission

Athletic Ability and College Admission, Athletics and College Admissions, Athletics and Ivy League Admission

The Supreme Court is taking up affirmative action based on race. But what about based on athletic ability?

As the Supreme Court takes up affirmative action based on race once again, we wonder if the Supreme Court will ever take up Affirmative Action based on athletic ability. Recruited athletes, after all, have better odds in the college admissions process than minority applicants who don’t happen to be recruited athletes. Basketball and football players in particular gain admission to highly selective schools in spite of subpar grades and SAT scores. The standards are truly lowered for athletes. It might be trite to say but it’s trite because it’s true.

At Ivy League colleges, the eight member institutions use what is called the Academic Index system. Each of the eight Ivy League schools computes an average Academic Index for the student body. While each applicant to an Ivy League school has an Academic Index, the system was designed to measure recruited athletes against the rest of the incoming class. Recruited athletes must meet a minimum Academic Index to compete in the Ivy League (though indeed there have been exceptions to this rule in the past). And let’s just say that the Academic Index of a typical recruited basketball player isn’t exactly on par with the Academic Index of a first-chair violinist.

If you’re a top running back who is drawing the attention of a ton of Division I scouts and you’ve got respectable SAT scores and grades, you’ve got a much better shot at admission to an Ivy League school that a violinist with perfect or near-perfect SATs and high school grades. It is how it is, unfair as it may be. Do you think the Supreme Court of the United States should take up the issue of affirmative action for athletes? Do you think athletes should have just as good of a chance of admission as other applicants? This would inevitably hurt the quality of the teams universities could field. Your football team may not be as competitive. Does this change your opinion? Let us know your thoughts on athletes and college admission by posting below!

Harvard Superstar

Harvard Star, Harvard University Superstar, Harvard Star Athlete

Are there other overlooked players who could be pro sensations on Ivy League sports teams? Jeremy Lin makes you think there might be.

Harvard superstar Jeremy Lin’s story is just getting started. If you thought his numbers were going to drop when Amar’e Stoudemire returned to the lineup for the Knicks, you’d be mistaken. With Amar’e back last night against the Toronto Raptors, Jeremy Lin delivered perhaps his best performance yet. While torching Kobe’s Lakers for 38 points was impressive, last night, Jeremy Lin hit the game-winning three-point bucket to seal the Knicks’ sixth straight win — on the Raptors’ home court no less. It was a come-from-behind thriller orchestrated by the Harvard superstar.

For all the doubters who feel the sample size is too small to proclaim Lin a phenom just yet, Jeremy Lin continues to dazzle. He dished out a career high 11 assists last night to go along with 27 points on 9 for 20 shooting. He has become a floor general for the Knicks, the likes of which they’ve been needing for years — since the 80’s on Mark Jackson’s first stint in New York. Not Chris Childs, not Charlie Ward, surely not Stephon Marbury, not Nate Robinson, not Chauncey Billups…none of them proved to be the answer to the Knicks’ decades-long search for a quality point guard. But Harvard superstar Jeremy Lin seems to be that answer.

Do you think that there are other players who could become professional sensations overlooked in the Ivy League? Do you think pro scouts will now pay more attention to the Ancient Eight since Jeremy Lin has become such a global sensation? Do you think that Jeremy Lin is the exception to the rule or are there others like him in Cambridge, Hanover, New Haven, Ithaca, etc.? Let us know your thoughts on the subject by posting below. At Ivy Coach, as you can see, we’ve got the Linsanity bug like the rest of the world!

NFL and Ivy League

NFL and Ivy League Colleges, NFL and Ivy League Universities, NFL Ivy Leaguers

Cornell’s Kevin Boothe will be representing the New York Giants again in the Super Bowl (photo credit: Marianne O’Leary).

This year’s NFL Playoffs has not been without Ivy Leaguers on numerous teams. Indeed, Super Bowl XLVI will feature an Ivy League grad (or grads) on both the New York Giants and the New England Patriots. For the Giants, Cornell’s Kevin Boothe as well as Brown’s Zak DeOssie mark their return to the Super Bowl. Once again, they’ll be facing the Pats, whom they upset a few years back in what would have been an undefeated season for New England.

According to the “Ivy League Sports” website, “A sixth-year NFL veteran, Boothe played in all 19 games this season, starting in nine during the regular season and all three in the postseason. DeOssie, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, has been a special teams mainstay for New York at long snapper. He successfully executed the snap on the game-winning field goal in overtime to defeat the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game.”

And who else in these playoffs once competed in the Ancient Eight? Harvard grad Matt Birk is now in his 14th NFL season, competing for the Baltimore Ravens. Alright, so we’re nearing the end of this post and we haven’t yet specified who will be representing the Ivy League on the New England Patriots come Super Bowl Sunday. The answer would be Robert Kraft, the owner of the Pats, who is a Columbia University graduate as well as an alumnus of Harvard Business School. So not exactly a player but owners count, too!

Check out this post on the Ivy League and NFL.

Athletes from the Ivy League

What makes athletes from the Ivy League different from athletes from, say, the ACC, Big East, or SCC? Well, for one, Ivy League athletes don’t earn scholarships. They also have to meet certain admissions criteria (see our post on the Ivy League Academic Index) and they tend to be student-athletes more so than athletes who happen to also go to school. One great example of such an athlete is Andrew Goldstein, a graduate of Dartmouth College, where he played goalie on the lacrosse team and earned two honorable mention All-American nods.

Athletes from Ivy League, Ivy League Athletes, Athletes in Ivy League, Ivy League Athletics

Ivy League athletes like Andrew Goldstein are true examples of student-athletes with an emphasis on the student.

Andrew Goldstein is regarded as the first male professional team sport athlete in North America to be openly gay during his playing career. Goldstein played for two seasons of Major League Lacrosse – first with the Boston Cannons and then with the Long Island Lizards. Goldstein was openly gay at Dartmouth as this SportsCenter piece points out, a piece we at Ivy Coach happened to have a whole lot to do with.

Since leaving lacrosse, Goldstein has become an outspoken advocate of not saying “gay” in a derogatory way in locker rooms. He’s also become a biology professor at UCLA and made a notable publication in the prestigious “Science” magazine by leading a team of researchers that found the possible cell of origin for prostate cancer. Wow.

Now that is an Ivy League athlete for you! Want to read more? Check out this piece on ESPN about the Ivy League athlete or this one on the historic nature of Goldstein’s example as an openly gay athlete.

Yale Athletic Recruiting

Yale Recruiting, Yale Sports Recruiting, Yale Athletics

This is the Columbia Men’s Swim Team. How many swimmers do you count in this photo? We counted 33. And some may just not be in the photo. Now go to the Yale Men’s Swim Team website. You’ll notice only 29 names. Yale athletic teams are undermanned and this is an intentional admissions strategy from the very top

Yale athletic recruiting isn’t like athletic recruiting at other Ivy League colleges. Why not? Well, it can all be traced to the actions of Yale’s president, Richard Levin. If you’re familiar with “Moneyball,” one could well argue that Richard Levin is in some ways the Billy Beane of Ivy League sports. The Oakland A’s are a small market team with a payroll that simply doesn’t compare to teams like the Yankees. And yet for many years, Beane’s teams found a way to compete by going after players that other teams undervalued. He found a way to transform a subjective scouting system into an objective system built on the foundation of data-driven analytics. Richard Levin hasn’t gone this far but he has certainly put his stamp on Yale athletics.

When Yale’s athletic director, Tom Beckett, took office in 1994, Levin charged him with trimming athletic rosters across the board. He simply didn’t want so many admissions slots reserved for recruited athletes. Said Levin in 2010 to the “Yale Alumni Magazine,” “I have wanted to maintain a strong athletic program, and I believe we have demonstrated this can be accomplished without admitting quite so many athletes. We now admit significantly fewer recruited athletes than the Ivy League allows.”

Go to a swim meet, a volleyball match, a field hockey game at Yale and you’ll notice the disparity. There aren’t as many Yale athletes on the teams. Sometimes, you’ll see ten Yale athletes on one team and 20 Princeton athletes on another. The disparity is a big one! And yet Yale’s athletic teams are generally still all competitive. Many of the teams are in fact Ivy League champions. So the university is able to admit more students with grades and SAT scores to make the school one of the most academically competitive colleges – if not the most competitive college – in the country and at the same time field competitive athletic teams with fewer recruited athletes whose academic numbers are, overall, generally lower.

Check out the article in the “Yale Daily Herald” on Yale Athletic Recruiting and have a look at this post on Ivy League Athletic Recruits.