POTSDAM — Clarkson president Tony Collins became the latest school president to weigh in on the pending Division III NCAA legislation that would force “play-up” schools to stop awarding athletic scholarships.
The four Division I hockey schools affected — St. Lawrence, Colorado College, Clarkson and Rensselaer — have all vowed to fight the legislation, which is due for a vote of the full 400-plus membership at the NCAA Convention in January.
The text of Collins’ statement:
“Clarkson University is joining St. Lawrence University, Colorado College and Rensselaer in publicly expressing its deep concern about proposed NCAA legislation that would eliminate Division I athletic scholarships for student athletes from eight colleges that offer mostly Division III sports.
“We were quite surprised that the NCAA Division III Presidents Council forwarded this recommendation to its membership. The Presidents Council has acknowledged that this recommendation, unlike every other element of their proposal, was not unanimous and was vigorously debated. Further, an NCAA-sponsored focus group study of 43 Division III schools stated that, ‘Many felt that institutions with already established multidivisional programs should not be restricted.’
“While we are opposed to the recommendation, we commend the Presidents Council for inviting input from the eight colleges who would be affected by this legislation. The Council is asking the schools to respond prior to an October meeting where it can act to remove this recommendation from its proposal. Clarkson will make its case to the Presidents Council on why this recommendation is unnecessary in reinforcing the Division III Student/Athlete Philosophy.
“The first reason for our opposition is that athletic scholarships enable Clarkson University to attract student/athletes who can both compete at the Division I level, and benefit from a Clarkson education. Their graduation rates and success after graduation are testament to their abilities as students as well as their abilities on the ice. Among our hockey alumni are individuals who have become business, science and technology leaders, as well as professional hockey players and managers. Their experience confirms that Clarkson University has been able to attract Division I student/athletes who receive the full benefit of a Clarkson education.
“The Presidents Council’s recommendation suggests that it is incompatible for a school to have Division I programs that grant athletic scholarships alongside Division III programs that do not. However, at Clarkson, students who are involved in these athletic programs are treated equitably and all benefit from a philosophy of academics and athletics that promotes their total development. The presence of a Division I program at Clarkson in no way diminishes our commitment to Division III values and philosophy.
“A second reason for Clarkson’s opposition is that in 1982 the NCAA ‘grandfathered’ its approval of these Division I offerings in Division III schools. They did so in recognition of the strong traditions, pride and competitive spirit that these programs brought to the schools. Indeed, Clarkson has a long and deep history that includes competitive Division I athletics.
“Based on the 1982 NCAA ruling, Clarkson has made strategic investments in these programs in good faith, including the development of a women’s Division I program that promotes gender equity. The NCAA sends a very troubling message if it removes its approval, thereby undermining investments made in valued athletic programs and people.”