Union president Roger Hull offered his reasons for voting against the amendment to Proposal 65 at the NCAA Convention on Monday.
The amendment, which permanently grandfathers eight “play-up” Division III schools so they can continue to offer athletic scholarships in their Division I sports, passed by a wide margin. The proposal affects St. Lawrence, Clarkson, Colorado College and Rensselaer in hockey, and Johns Hopkins in lacrosse, among others.
One of the contentions of the proponents of prohibiting scholarships was that having Division I programs unfairly benefited those schools’ D-III sports. However, those schools earned widespread support among fellow members of their all-sport D-III conferences. In the case of SLU, Clarkson and RPI, that’s the Upstate Collegiate Athletic Association (UCAA).
Union is a member of both the UCAA and the Division I ECAC in hockey but nevertheless decided to vote against it.
Hull said he “wrestled with the decision until the last possible moment,” but ultimately decided that his conscience outweighed being a good neighbor.
“I have great respect for those presidents and their institutions, but ultimately I had to do what I thought was right,” he said to the Schenectady (N.Y.) Gazette.
“I am philosophically opposed to treating a group of men or women differently from any other athlete or non-athlete on a campus like ours.”
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Union came into the ECAC in 1991 after Army left to become an independent. Union had been a power in Division III.
“I said I’d be willing to proceed under one condition,” Hull said to the Troy (N.Y.) Record, “that we never treat those 26 men [hockey players] any different from the way we treat the other athletes on our campus.”
Union has had just two winning seasons since joining Division I, 1993-94 and 1996-97. It is not allowed to offer athletic scholarships since it moved up in class after the 1982-83 waiver which originally grandfathered in the eight aforementioned schools. Union also does not offer preferential aid of any sort.
“Why should my attitude change?” Hull said. “I learned a long time ago, in this business, you’re going to be criticized no matter what you do, so you better do what you believe in.”
Hull said he told his colleagues that he would abstain from voting unless someone said they needed the Prop 65 amendment in order to be competitive. When that point was, indeed, made, Hull objected to that notion, and decided to vote against 65-1.
“We may not win as many games as some of the institutions in our conference, but we are competitive every time we get on the ice,” Hull said to the Gazette. “I am proud of the way that our hockey players represent this institution and I am proud of the fact that some of them have been among our best students.
“I have always said to the people with whom I work that no matter what stance we take in a job like this, we will be criticized and that we should therefore always do what we believe in.
“For me, doing what I believe in means saying that athletic scholarships do not belong on a campus like ours.”