The Ivy Coach Daily

March 13, 2024

Yale Athletic Recruiting: Then and Now

These guys rowed for Yale back in the day.

Previously Published on October 6, 2011:

Yale University has historically approved athletic recruiting a little differently than its Ivy League peers. Why and how so? It can all be traced to Yale’s former president, Richard Levin, a man we at Ivy Coach have deemed the Billy Beane of Ivy League sports. Yes, the Billy Beane from Moneyball

Whereas Beane relied on data to identify undervalued baseball players who could help his small-market Oakland A’s baseball team compete against the moneyed elites like the New York Yankees, Levin simply decided too many slots in Yale’s admissions process were earmarked for recruited athletes. He believed its athletic teams could succeed with fewer athletes — and he practiced what he preached.

The Rationale for Yale’s Past Downsizing in 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.”

Yale’s Athletic Team Sizes Are Now on Par with Fellow Ivy Leagues

But that was 2010. So, in 2024, we thought we’d go through the rosters of Yale’s varsity teams to see if the teams are discernibly smaller than their Ivy League counterparts. Our conclusion? The number of student-athletes on Yale’s athletic teams is similar to the number of student-athletes on the teams of the seven other Ivy League schools. We have identified no discernible difference.

Levin held office through 2013 at Yale. Peter Salovey has been Yale’s president ever since. Thus, at some point during Salovey’s tenure leading the Ivy League institution, he must have nixed Levin’s smaller athletic teams approach. Maybe the athletic department put some pressure on the administration? Perhaps they wanted to win more Ivy League titles? Who knows what happened behind closed doors, but Yale’s current team roster sizes speak for themselves.

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