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College Hockey:
Was It The Right Decision?

The 12 ECAC athletic directors got together Monday morning to decide what would happen as a result of the University of Vermont’s decision to cancel the remainder of its 1999-2000 season. With Vermont having played seven league games already, there were questions to be answered.

This morning, the athletic directors came to a decision.

But was it the right one?

Let’s break it down a little further.

The standings are now being decided by winning percentages, not by number of points. The point system, for this season, has become obsolete. Exactly what does this mean?

What it means is that the ECAC games the 11 remaining schools are playing are worth different values.

For instance, Cornell, Colgate, Clarkson and St. Lawrence will only play 20 ECAC games this season, meaning that each game is worth an even five percent in the standings. The remaining seven schools will play 21 ECAC games this season, meaning that each game they play within the league is worth 4.77 percent.

To put it simply, it means that wins or losses by Cornell, Colgate, Clarkson and St. Lawrence within the league are worth more than wins or losses by the other teams. A small difference, admittedly, but a difference nonetheless.

For example, if Colgate plays Rensselaer, the difference between winning and losing is 0.0477 in Rensselaer’s winning percentage — but for Colgate, the difference is 0.050.

Fair or not?

What if Yale and St. Lawrence are battling it out for the regular-season championship and Yale has finished its season at 14-6-1. The Saints finish at 13-6-1, missing one extra Vermont game. Yale wins the regular-season title based on winning percentage. Who is to say that St. Lawrence doesn’t defeat Vermont if the teams had played?

Essentially, what is happening here is that even though most teams have 11 games remaining on their ECAC schedules, they don’t all count the same.

Fair or not?

Now take into account the statistical titles. Did you know that for every goal that Andy McDonald scores, Brad Tapper has to score 1.05 in order to match him?

If both Tapper and McDonald had 20 goals in league play, McDonald wins the scoring title because his per-game average would be 1.00 goal per game whereas Tapper’s would be 0.95 goals per game.

Every goal and assist in league play by Cornell, Colgate, Clarkson and St. Lawrence is worth five percent more than those goals and assists gathered by the other seven teams.

Fair or not?

Dartmouth had its schedule rearranged to prevent the Big Green having to play consecutive nights against a rested team. While this decision was good for the team, was it fair to others involved?

For example, you are a huge Dartmouth fan. You go to every single game. It’s off to Princeton and Yale for the weekend. But wait, the Yale game is on Friday and the Princeton game is on Sunday.

Okay, let’s stay in New Haven on Saturday and then go to Princeton on Sunday morning. I’m sorry, it’s how much for a room? I need to spend how much extra per weekend in order to watch the team I love?

What if Union was expecting a walk-up crowd of 50 percent for the Friday-evening matchup against Dartmouth and now that the game is on Thursday, that number is 10 percent? That’s 1,000 tickets at $6 a head, which means $6,000 in lost revenue for Union.

Fair or not?

While I feel for Dartmouth, it’s awfully hard to ask people to spend more or to lose money with the rearranged schedule. Budgets are tight these days and this is hard to take.

Some more questions that one has to ask regarding some of the decisions include:

  • Why would Dartmouth want to take a day off on the road? It would essentially amount to spending one day traveling and in a hotel room, whereas if the Big Green played twice on consecutive days on the road, it would be normal. I can see the logic of playing Friday-Sunday at home, but I can’t see it being beneficial on the road.
  • If you are a head coach, how can you, without some permutations and calculations, figure out where you stand heading into the final two weekends of the season? What effect does a 3-1 record have for you if you are Princeton? What effect does a 3-1 record have for you if you are Clarkson? In the point system, you could figure out what you needed to do. Will teams hire a student who is a math major?
  • Do St. Lawrence and Dartmouth have an advantage playing the last regular game of the season after everyone else has finished their regular season? I guess that these two teams won’t need that math major on March 5th.

    A better solution would have been to find a way in which all games are worth an equal value, say by eliminating the seven ECAC games in which Vermont had already participated. That way, it would have been a 20-game league schedule, and all games would be worth five percent of the total. The way it stands now, it’s just not proper that some games have a different value than others.

    All in all, a decision had to be made in a short time, but I am not convinced that the ones that were made were the right ones.


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