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The Place For Athletics

The following responses and comments to "The Place For Athletics" were submitted by members of the Holy Cross community. Post your own reactions >>

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First of all, this was an excellent piece, both in content and in format. I suspect mine will not be the only response generated by this article.

I graduated from the Cross in 1959, having attended there on a football scholarship. I was a starting lineman, both offense and defense, for three years. When I graduated I was presented with the John C. Lawlor Award for being the student/athlete of our class over the four-years of my Holy Cross education.

Nearly every one of our football team was on scholarship. No one was dumb. No one flunked out. No one pursued “basket weaving”, etc., and no one got a “jock break.” All the courses were hard, some harder than others. We took 18 hours per semester for at least freshman year and 15 hours every other semester.

During the season we practiced from 3:30 until 6:00 and then went to dinner at Kimball. There was a team meeting/film about twice a week after that, getting us to our room no later than 8:00. Friday practices were short because of game day Saturday. I suspect, without knowing, that the meetings are more frequent today and the practices perhaps longer, resulting in wearier bodies and fewer hours for study.

On the other hand, we had “lights out,” enforced by Jesuit floor prefects all four years of school. Freshman year: 10:30, Sophomore year: 11:00, Junior year: 11:30, Senior year: midnight (yea!). I recall sneaking to the bathroom, where there was light, and sitting on the floor studying Greek long after lights out to get done what had to get done. No one was without a night light you could attach to a book for reading under the blanket so the light didn’t show through the transom to the Jesuit patrol. And the funny thing is, almost all of us had better grades the first semester, during football, than second semester. I think dealing with the stress of time then was very useful in my “later-life”—perhaps even more than Greek. I suspect today’s student-athletes have more time for study, even if there are longer practices and more team meetings.

I don’t want this missive to sound like “I had to walk 15 miles to school in the snow every day uphill, both ways,” because I’m sure that one thing made it easier for us than today: we had no female classmates. We had curfews; we had to get a pass to go off-campus at night; we had little else to do but study, so we did. I have not experienced co-ed education since grade school and I recall girls being, well, distracting. I still do. So, in that sense, we had it much easier than today’s student/athlete.

I read with much interest the rationale for joining the Patriot league and applaud. My applause became somewhat muted, however, when I read that every football player was receiving a “grant.” I remember when we played Dartmouth—which gave no scholarships, only grants-in-aid—how amazing it was that those who most needed aid weighed over 220 and ran the hundred in 10.2. In this regard, it seems little has changed. We thought it was phony then and I do now.

I do not pretend to know the complications of Title IX vis-à-vis football scholarships. This may be the determining factor. But I hate to think that you are passing up truly good athletes because “they can’t make the scholastic grade” at the Cross. I think an athlete you want, if he/she wants to come after having the curriculum fully explained, and his/her belief in him/herself is supported by a teacher or counselor, should be given that extraordinary chance. Thou shall not sell them short.

I wish you well.

Joseph H. Moore ‘59

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I live on the West Coast and graduated in 1969.Although I only played intramurals, I have been steeped in the mystique of Holy Cross athletics from an early age, and that is what attracted me to the school. I definitely felt regret when I learned about the transition to the Patriot League and the loss of our traditional rivalries. Although Holy Cross has always been an excellent academic institution, it has traditionally been our sports teams (especially basketball and football) which have placed the name of Holy Cross in front of the public. To a large extent, that has now been lost. For this reason, I am disappointed in the way Holy Cross administration has chosen to minimally support these sports with advertising and outreach to the community. If we stay in the Patriot League, we must promote and support that effort fully. By improving the entire league, under the brand of real student athletes, we can build something special.

Dave Lynch ’69

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Having attended the Cross on an NCAA athletic grant in football and also having played lacrosse as a spring sport, I read with considerable interest and enjoyment the article “The Place for Athletics” in the winter 2008 edition of the Holy Cross Magazine.

The panel discussing the issues comprised an interesting cross section of faculty members, administration, alumni and a student but, for some unknown reason, did not include any members of the current coaching staffs. I’m sure that the coaches have an interest in the topics discussed and would also like to hear their opinions and suggestions.

The following questions also come to mind:

1. When a highly sought after student-athlete recruit chooses another school over Holy Cross, do we do anything to find out why he/she decided to go elsewhere? Is it financial aid? The Patriot League? Or is it those infamous Worcester winters that scare them off?

2. What schools do we typically compete with to recruit student-athletes? The Ivy League? B.C.? And what can we do to gain a competitive edge with these schools to successfully recruit the student athletes that we want at Holy Cross?

3. What is our success rate in recruiting top flight student-athletes? 100%? 50%? Or less? What can we do to improve these numbers NOW? Again, input from the coaching staffs appears critical in this regard

.4. What is our success rate in recruiting minority student-athletes? Same questions as above.

5. Since everyone on the discussion panel seems to agree that student-athletes at Holy Cross are under considerable pressure to manage their time wisely between academics and athletics, (and I can certainly agree with that from my own experience) then why not offer the option of a 5 year degree plan to incoming student-athletes? This would be similar to the “red shirting” programs traditionally used at larger schools to improve their athletic programs. The critical difference is that this plan would be designed to help the student-athlete be successful at Holy Cross and, as a consequence, improve the athletic program. The extra costs associated with offering a 5 year study plan to incoming student-athletes may be offset by the fact that Holy Cross is placing the interests of the “true student-athlete” first and can also give us a competitive recruiting advantage over other schools not promoting that option.

I think this can be accomplished in a manner consistent with Fr. McFarland’s closing comments: “I think we want to be known as a place that does things the right way. And that means maintaining our integrity as an institution, living up to our principles, nurturing our student-athletes so that, when they finish at Holy Cross, they become successful and fulfilled and happy people…”

Anyway, these are my thoughts/suggestions after reading the article on athletics at Holy Cross. This is the first time I have written to the school in the 37+ years since my graduation.

As further background, I was a senior on the 1969 football team whose season was cancelled by the hepatitis infection. After that, the lacrosse season was disrupted in the spring, 1970 when President Nixon decided that it was time to invade Cambodia during the Viet Nam War. Hopefully, the current student-athletes at Holy Cross won’t face similar disruptions.

I look forward to reading and receiving further comments on the current/future status of athletics at Holy Cross.

Jim Mahon ’70

p.s. My only hepatitis residual I am aware of is that the local blood bank still won’t accept my blood no matter how desperate they claim to be. Kind of creepy, huh!

p.p.s. Best wishes to my teammates and classmates.

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I really enjoyed the forum on the role of intercollegiate athletics. Holy Cross does it the right way. Don't change a thing.

Dick Kiekbusch

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My name is Henry Belch, Class of ’70. I am a long time supporter of Holy Cross athletics, especially Holy Cross basketball. My writing focuses on changes in Holy Cross athletics, which, I believe, will improve the Holy Cross basketball program. Ralph Willard is a fine coach. What was said about Don Shula can be said about Coach Willard: “He can take his’n and beat your’n. Then take your’n and beat his’n.” But, like Coach Blaney before him, he is handicapped by the league Holy Cross competes in, the dreaded Patriot League.

I am writing to you after having read the sports article in the most recent Holy Cross Magazine. I sense some dissatisfaction in the athletic administration and Fr. McFarland with the Patriot League. I sensed it in advance many years ago when I sent a letter to Father Brooks complaining about Holy Cross’ entry into the Patriot League. My concerns were the lack of natural rivalries with the Patriot League teams, none of which had had much interplay with Holy Cross over the years, and the distance of travel involved which took the games away from the Holy Cross community of students, alumni and friends. We had had natural rivalries with BC, PC, UMass, UConn, and other New England and New York Metro schools, which were driving distance away. Travel to away games was accessible to the Holy Cross community. It was fun traveling to Amherst to watch Holy Cross compete against UMass when Julius Erving was playing and to Providence to watch PC with Ernie D and Marvin Barnes. These teams are not even on Holy Cross’ schedule this year! Those schools went in another direction. Should Holy Cross have followed BC, PC and UConn into the Big East? Maybe, but those days are long past, long gone. The Patriot League schools are fine academic institutions and, believe me, I and my fellow purple-blooded alumni want Holy Cross to graduate all of its athletes. But what does Holy Cross have in common with the Naval Academy? Nothing.

What can we do to jazz up Holy Cross basketball without compromising academics or joining some hodge-podge league like the Atlantic 10 or the Colonial Athletic Association? My suggestion is that Holy Cross leave the Patriot League and become part of a Catholic League. When I suggested a Catholic League to Father Brooks lo those many years ago the reply was that he did not want to isolate Holy Cross into a “Catholic” league. My response was and is, “Well, what the heck are we anyway? We are a Catholic college. The spires of Fenwick look down upon us. Are we ashamed of that or should we be proud to carry that banner. The jerseys say ‘Holy Cross’ on them in purple for crying out loud. ”

Creating a Catholic League would give to teams I will name later a “uniqueness.” Existing leagues seemed to be tied to “Big,” “10 or 12,” or “Conference” in their titles. This would be the first Catholic League. Has a ring to it, doesn’t it? It’s worked well on the high school level. Some of the finest academic and athletic high schools are Catholic schools. Perhaps parents of bright and basketball-gifted students would see schools in this league providing the same nurturing environment their high schools did. Might help recruiting.

For membership in this league I would recommend teams like Marist, Siena, Canisius, Niagara, St. Bonaventure, Fordham, Manhattan, Iona, Fairfield, St. Peter’s, La Salle, and St. Joseph’s. These are small, highly selective, Catholic, liberal arts colleges in the main. All have some prior history with Holy Cross. Philadelphia is not right around the corner but it is more accessible than Easton, Lewisburg and Bethlehem, PA. Upstate New York is a hike but not impossible and to play teams we have a history with might be worth a road trip. The other schools are within driving distance. Like Holy Cross many of these schools once had athletic greatness but have been overtaken by the mega-universities. I don’t see this league challenging year to year with the Big East and ACC, but I do see it becoming competitive with the A10. All these schools have students, alumni and friends from the greater New York City area. Perhaps the league could have a real conference tournament in New York City rather than Upper Marlboro, MD, which was not even centrally located for the Patriot League. Couldn’t hurt recruiting.

I realize there are difficulties in setting up such a league from scratch, not the least of which is the conference affiliations these schools already have. And the “football thing” is an issue. But what the heck? Let Holy Cross lead the way, and within legal constraints, suggest such a league and see what happens. Publish this idea in the next magazine issue and see what kind of alumni response you get.

What do you think?
Henry Belch ’70

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That certain schools, attempting to pad their non-conference schedules, won’t play us in basketball is both interesting and unfortunate. I’m not sure which schools Dr. Vellacio refers to. But living in Chicago, I’ve always wondered why the College doesn’t travel to schools in major markets outside of New England: Northwestern, TCU, Rice, and Pepperdine are a few potential competitors that come to mind. These games would energize the national alumni and get Holy Cross some shelf space in the minds of prospective students. They are good schools as well, and our association with them would reflect well on Holy Cross. I suspect the games would be competitive, too.

It may be these schools won’t play us. But if they, or others like them, would, why not schedule them?

If that can’t be done, and we are moving sideways with the Patriot League (with respect to our profile with prospective students and other key measurements), I’m curious why a move to Division III wasn’t discussed among the article’s participants. We describe ourselves as a modest sized, highly selective, Jesuit, liberal arts college. U.S. News and World Report’s listing of top liberal arts colleges ranks us as 33rd on its list of liberal arts schools, and I have heard officers of the college cite that ranking. Some cursory analysis of the other names on U.S. News’ list that list provides a few interesting facts:

• The large majority of similar institutions compete in Division III: 40 of the top 50 coed liberal arts programs in fact. For the English majors among us, that’s 80%.

• The top ranked schools are almost unanimously Division III: of the top 16 on the list, 15 (or almost 95%) are Division III.

• The other New England schools have opted for Division III, and so this list offers the potential for meaningful, local rivalries with schools that have strong national reputations: 16 of the 50 are located in New York/New England, and 14 of those are Division III. Holy Cross and Colgate are the exceptions. Among those 14 are Williams, Amherst, Wesleyan, Middlebury, and Hamilton to name a few. Even alumni in Chicago could be proud of beating those schools if rivalries were established and maintained.

• Given the facts above, it’s no surprise we need to go far and wide (in many ways) to find our competition. Of the 10 liberal arts schools who do compete in Division I, Colgate and Army are our only Northeast competitors. Four are located in Maryland and three are in the South. And speaking of Army, it’s worth noting that Army and Navy (with the ultimate in a “deep pocketed” corporate parent) are two of the ten; frankly, I had never considered them liberal arts colleges until I looked at this list.

• Finally, if we are looking for schools in other parts of the country to play, the U.S. News list includes prominent schools in the Midwest such as Denison, Kenyon, and Grinnell (yes, New Englanders, there is a school in Iowa ranked above us); and Western schools such as Colorado College, Pomona, and Claremont McKenna. These contests would offer opportunities to play in front of alumni and prospective students, and to raise our national profiles.

This analysis admittedly overlooks the Ivy League universities, but do we truly believe that these institutions view us as a rival? Also, it’s worth noting we are the only Catholic school among the top 50, leaving a natural marketing niche: we’re it.

I’d love nothing more than to see my Crusaders on ESPN taking on the likes of Michigan, LSU, and Boston College in a major sport, but I think we’ve all recognized competing on such a level is not possible given our size, academic standards, and financial resources. And is it really worth the expense to compete against the schools we do go against? And though perhaps we can compete at high levels in other, targeted sports like hockey, do those sports really capture the widespread recognition we’re looking for?

As a previous writer said, I think it’s time to “give up the ghost.” In Division III we can develop great rivalries against some other great schools, ones with national reputations and with whom we should be very proud to be associated. And if we lose some prospective students along the way who want attend a college with “big time” athletics, who cares, we were likely to lose them anyway. We’ll more than make up for it by expanding our opportunities for scholar athletes, those dedicated and determined young men and women who would rather play than watch.

Ted Hocter ’86

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I was lucky enough to play both a varsity (hockey) and club (rugby) sport over 4 years at Holy Cross. In hockey we lost, a lot; In rugby we won, a lot. In hockey, we graduated no name players. In rugby, we graduated players who went on to National and International renown. One sport had coaches and “perks.” The other lacked coaches and even basic transportation to games as far south as Washington D.C. Both sports offered the opportunity to compete against talented athletes, knowing full well that come graduation, it was time to “put away the things of a child.” I continue to be proud of Holy Cross as an academic institution. I don't want the school to be another B.C. (in football) or Georgetown (in basketball). I want it to be Holy Cross, a school with unlimited opportunities for all of its students. Perhaps its time for a new direction in sports—a Catholic or Jesuit Conference, built on the principles of the Patriot League. The Ivy League has gone its own way without looking back. A Jesuit league could be even more impressive.


Dennis Fitzgerald ’74

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I read the article on Athletics with interest. “Seems to me that I have heard that song before.” In 2001, I retired after 48 years of coaching on all levels. I have seen it all, played at Holy Cross, coached against Holy Cross (at BC) and finished my career at Amherst College. There are all levels of competition. Distant fields are not greener. Each level has pluses and minuses but each collegial decision should be based on what is best for the student, then based on what the College can reasonably supply physically and financially. Holy Cross has it right. Keep athletics in perspective as part of a student's education (note well coaches) and when alumni get restless republish Fr. Brook's comments of 1982. He had it right then and Holy Cross has it right now. God bless.

John Tracy Mehr ’50

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I greatly appreciate HCM’s willingness to sponsor the forum that lead to the cover story of the winter 2008 publication. The time and comments of all involved are sincerely appreciated as well.

The value of a successful athletic program is difficult to assess. As was pointed out, very few athletic departments operate on a balanced budget, even those who compete for national championships. The direct impact of media exposure is hard to quantify. Yet most would agree, anything the College chooses to do should be done as well as possible.

Young men and women who are capable of competing at the highest level of Division I athletics while also succeeding in a world class academic curriculum do exist. I played with them on Fitton Field. I watched them play at the Hart Center. I saw them on the cover of Sports Illustrated. I studied organic chemistry with them at Swords Hall. I went with them to medical school. One such individual was even featured in “The Profile” section of this edition on HCM. To attract these young men and women to Holy Cross, they need to know that it is a place where their goals can be achieved and their talents will be appreciated. There is no need for Holy Cross to “stretch” to let these individuals in.

Offering scholarships needs to be considered as more than just an issue of dollars and cents.  Offering a high school student a scholarship implies belief in his or her abilities, belief that he or she will bring something valuable to the school. When I was looking at colleges I wanted to get the best education I could while competing at the highest level of football I was capable of. There were several schools that would have served that purpose. It was the scholarship offer from Holy Cross that made the difference. It was not just because it would relieve some of the financial burden. If I had qualified for financial aid it would have served the same purpose. The scholarship offer made a difference because is indicated to me that the school and the coaches thought I was capable of succeeding as both a student and an athlete. It told me that what mattered to me was of value to them. Many of my football teammates chose Holy Cross for the same reason. The scholarship offer makes more of a difference than just its financial impact. 

In the last of our scholarship years, not only did our football team have great success, we also had four academic All-Americans, two recipients of NCAA post-graduate scholarships, and two were honored as National Football Foundation Scholar-Athletes. Neither the gridiron successes nor that degree of academic recognition have happened since.

If the Patriot League is made up of the type of schools we wish to be associated with then that is where we should stay. Fr. McFarland said others in the league are considering football scholarships, we should too. As Vice President Vellaccio indicated, need-based aid is not necessarily less corruptible than offering scholarships. Many of the men and women who have made the College proud would not have come if they had not been offered scholarships. If Holy Cross truly values the contributions its former student athletes have made then it should demonstrate that by committing itself to a competitive future. If not, a question mark should be added to the cover of the last edition of HCM. Holy Cross – The Place for Athletics?

Jack Lavalette ’91

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A very good discussion to which I add the following comments.

1. Obviously, any national recognition with regard to men's football now and in the future isn't going to happen. However this doesn't have to be the case with regards to other sports, i.e. men’s and women's basketball, baseball, soccer, and hockey. I notice such teams have been doing very well recently, but my notice of same has been mostly by accident. The publicized results of such sports successes is almost non-existent in the papers. Why not hire a sports promotional agent to see that such results are at least listed in the major national newspapers along with all the other schools that do so. Also an occasional favorable article about Holy Cross sports successes in such newspapers and major sports magazines wouldn't hurt.

2. Speaking of publicity and name recognition, the promotion of Holy Cross alumni memorabilia is also non-existent. I'm tired of walking around seeing Notre Dame, Michigan, Ohio State, B.C., etc., sweat shirts and caps on people and bumper stickers. Thought I'd look into getting myself some good old Holy Cross stuff. Looked in the Holy Cross Magazine containing “The Place for Athletics” to see what was being offered for sale. Low and behold there isn't a word on the subject in the entire magazine. Indeed, I can't recall seeing any word on said subject in any such past magazine as well. So I went to the Web site. No special mention of offering school recognition items there either. Finally, I found some meager mention of their promotion for sale by logging into the Library site and found the most unimaginative items possible. Sure, I'd like an item with the College logo on it, but here in Florida it would only be recognized by another grad or a possible retired Jesuit. Why doesn't the baseball hat have the logo on the front with College of the Holy Cross on the back? Use some imagination with regard to the Sweat and T- shirts as well. At the very lease promote same.

3. Finally I had a good laugh about all the moaning and groaning in the subject article about how difficult the courses are today at Holy Cross, how difficult it is to manage one's time, and how the athletes have to go to class. NEWS FLASH!! It has always been that way at Holy Cross! Look up the curriculum during the ’50s. Where have all the philosophy courses gone? Six hours a week, one hr. each day, save for 2 hrs. on Friday. That way, you completed a course in half a semester. Mass on Sunday? How about obligatory sign-in Masses every day Monday thru Friday at 7 a.m. Try walking across the snowy field from Wheeler to the Chapel in the dead of winter each morning.

Please note that my comments are the result of the fact that I love The College of the Holy Cross and always will.

Reynold Finnegan '60

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I read this article with great interest in light of the fact that my 19 year-old son was accepted to Holy Cross because of his high school academic standing. After visiting Holy Cross on his spring break, he just felt it was a good fit. He was a varsity athlete in two high school sports and thought that he’d also have a better chance of walking on the football team at Holy Cross than at his second choice, Boston College. After arriving on campus un-scouted, he decided to use his freshman year to get familiar with the faculty, class demands (biology major) and learn the fine art of cleaning food trays in the cafeteria, all the while, working out at Hart Center to stay in shape. His plan all along was to get a great education first, and enjoy new friends and possibly play ball, second.

We hail from Spokane where Gonzaga basketball is a big thing. To hear that only 33% of the basketball players at Gonzaga graduate is disheartening. That only reinforces our decision to sacrifice some to help pay for our son's Holy Cross experience.

J.C. Jones

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I believe there were some items overlooked in the discussion on athletics at Holy Cross.
If you are Division I and do not want to travel, how are you going to increase your visibility?

Don't the Holy Cross men's and women's basketball teams have full scholarships?

While Holy Cross is a good school with a proud athletic tradition, it is not competitive in Division I. You can play in Division I without scholarship support, but you cannot be competitive. If you go with need-based support you lose the head-to-head battle with the Ivy League.

Some of the “Division I” teams the Crusaders have are not even competitive with the best Division III teams in New England.

Holy Cross continues to drop in the U.S. News & World Report rankings.

I've read twice now in Holy Cross magazine how difficult it is for men's basketball coach Ralph Willard to schedule games because teams do not want to lose to Holy Cross. That is frustrating, as VP Frank Vellacio would no doubt agree (see page 17), but there are teams out there that will play Holy Cross.

For example Coach Willard has yet to call Dave Paulsen at Division III Williams College about a re-match after the Ephs strode into the Hart Center on December 4, 2003 and broke the Crusaders' 14-game home court win streak, 78-71. I think coach Paulsen would do whatever he could to his schedule to host the Crusaders, even though Williams starts its season two weeks after Holy Cross.

It's time for Holy Cross to give up the ghost of Division I athletic glory and put more money into academics. An academically stronger school with a broad based athletic program will be far better in the long run than wasting precious resources on getting a first round game in the NCAA Basketball Tournament every so often.

Dick Quinn ’73

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I was a student-athlete at HC from 1987 to 1990, having transferred from Syracuse University after 2 years of scholarship football. My first thoughts of Holy Cross are of the terrific players and coaches that were associated with the football program at the time. They were a special group.

Having come from SU, where they recruited athletes instead of students, Holy Cross was refreshing to say the least. Of the 22 freshmen in the SU class of 1985, I believe 7 graduated.

At Holy Cross my five suitemates and I not only graduated on time but have become professionals in a variety of fields – dentists, CPA's, teachers, Principals and more. We were all on scholarship at the time and balanced a very demanding athletic and academic schedule. And yes, the coaches asked us not to schedule classes after a certain time, but if it couldn't be helped, everyone worked around it – not without a few choice words. But it worked!

In many ways, Holy Cross was easier academically than Syracuse. The classes were much smaller and the professors much more accessible and demanding. I remember not having read one assignment in Professor Green’s history class – never again. You couldn't skate by, you worked. But we had the skills to get it done – all that was needed was the effort.

The irony of it all: I could not have gotten into Holy Cross without football and wouldn't have gone there without a scholarship. I was a B student in high school and graduated with a 3.02.  I was solid in the classroom and on the football field like so many of my friends. 

Exposure at the next level doesn't have to be the Big East, but it would be nice to see us compete, get the recognition and feel the pride at a national level more often. I for one would certainly send more money!     

To say that the athletes that need to be recruited to compete at a higher level can not handle the load is, I believe, a poor excuse. We proved it in 1987. Air Force and Navy compete in football and I dare say they have a few more demands on them than we did on the Hill. I hope that my alma mater will someday give my children the same opportunity I had. My wife is already talking about Sienna! Lord NO! Step it up Crusaders!

Jeff Bennett ’90

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Clark Booth's questions implied that he has personally accepted good teams that might never be great, student-athletes rather than athlete-students, and occasional notice over national acclaim.  Enough time has passed since Bob Cousy and Pat McCarthy so that most of us accept that Clark is right.

A 2700 student college with a 54-46% gender split should be honest when it comes to recognition.  I would be surprised if many of us believe that recognition means striving to match the University of Tennessee's Women's Basketball program. And, with 27 varsity teams, 2700 students can rarely compete with Notre Dame or Boston College.

We are I-AA. It's okay. The Ivies will not win national championships in men's football or basketball either. They have rivalries and traditions that have transformed the expectations of their alumni and students into a different sports world than BC and Notre Dame play in. But, we do need new indoor facilities so that scheduling is more feasible and the teams we can best field will have fewer practicing disadvantages.

Lastly, national sports recognition is a “Catch-22” goal. You can not do it from where we are. Pleading “Please notice us and please remember our name.” Begging and paying High Schoolers to come and help us build a nationally recognized Men's Football or Basketball team is a dream and a diversion from the college we have become. Clark is right that the balance we have between sports and classrooms makes more sense. Colgate, Bucknell, Lehigh, Fordham, and Lafayette provide a good nucleus for a league in which we can compete.

Our past was what got us here.  Once upon a time, we took the public spotlight that sports provided to test the greatness in Holy Cross. Being the best that we could be fed the spirit within us and we found the best leaders and formed the best teams. Dr. Eddie Anderson, Bob Cousy, Pat McCarthy, and Jack Lentz are still what Holy Cross is about. Today, with leadership initiated by Father Brooks and quietly ablaze within Father McFarland, our spirit to be the best has widened our vision to be more diverse in who we are and where we will perform. Tom Gilmore, Bill Gibbons, Ralph Willard, Osvaldo Golijov, James Kee, Catherine Roberts, and Frank Vellaccio have joined those who have tested and shared their greatness with us.

Hoping to be noticed on television or in the press across the country for athletic teams that have difficulty covering the geography of the Patriot League is a questionable plan. In 1960, with 2,350 male students being an independent was fine. Money was just beginning to dominate college sports. Now, we have 1,250 males and 27 varsity sports.Things have changed. Providence College may be better known than Brown University but most of us respect the balance between sports and education in the Ivy League. The Patriot League is a good opportunity for Holy Cross, Bucknell, Colgate, Fordham, Lehigh, and Lafayette. However, there is a lot of marketing left for the league to rise to be like the Ivies. Let's move forward.

Bill Guiney ’66

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You've got the sports just right; the Patriot League and the Ivies (Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, Princeton) for football and basketball. Keep the Patriot League small enough so you can play the Ivies each year as well. There is the real prestige for Holy Cross; not a national ranking. Relax about it. You don’t have to win everything every year. Let the real student athletes have fun with it. If you do feel the need to upgrade, concentrate on basketball. If you don't upgrade and can't fill the basketball schedule, invite a Williams or an Amherst for a game. It might be fun for both schools. A traditional rival to replace BC? Stick with the Jebbies; go with Fordham or Georgetown. If not a Jebbie, then try Colgate.

What really concerns me about the future is not sports, but academics. You're pricing the middle class out of the market, and with it a lot of excellent students and student athletes. Holy Cross needs merit scholarships, a bunch of them. Otherwise it becomes a place for the rich and the poor, and loses much of its traditional base - the top students from the middle class. If we are to truly be men and women for others, then a lot of us will not become rich, and will not be able to send our own children to Holy Cross. I know this is not a problem unique to Holy Cross, and I know we don't have the endowment of a Harvard available to us to address this problem. But we have to do something. It is a crisis, much worse than any athletic challenge. It is here that our full attention should be focused. We'll lose an awfully lot of good students otherwise. And that will do a lot more to hurt the college than a losing football season. -

Joseph Taylor ’69

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I found the roundtable discussion most interesting and informative. As a former student-athlete, a basketball player, class of ’61, I will confine most of my remarks to the sport of basketball.
To take a different view, it has been my longtime opinion that we should have joined the Big East at its formation, having been informed that we were invited at the time. I understand and acknowledge Fr. Brooks well stated reasons for not going in that direction and for joining the Colonial, now the Patriot, Conference. I have followed the team from afar (Port Jefferson, L.I.) for the many years since graduation and, quite frankly, applaud the team’s performance during Coach Willard’s tenure. The team gives me great pleasure, to watch Holy Cross play the game the way it should be played.
Notwithstanding the polluted atmosphere that permeated college basketball during the 1961 scandals (our team played in at least 3 games in which 2 players on the other team were shaving—Tenn., Seton Hall, and Detroit; there were others that I have personal knowledge of and have been thoroughly documented) and as stated at least in part by Fr. Brooks for not joining the Big East, I am still of the mind that we would have thrived in the Big East, continued to maintained our standards while enhancing and expanding our reputation—leading to even more success in the country’s awareness.

It may be wishful thinking, but I ask you to consider the following hypothetical; It’s the present time, Fr. McFarland is President, Frank Vellaccio is senior V.P., Ralph Willard is coach, Richard Regan is D.A. and all admissions policies remain as they are right now. We give 3 to 5 scholarships a year to admissions acceptable players. The question is: How many of, let’s say, the top 150 players in the country would want to go to the Cross? My opinion would be 2 or 3.That’s enough to build a team around, a team that could be competitive in the current Big East. Imagine adding those top 2 or 3 to our teams of this and the last few years. As far as the 2 or 3 are concerned, you can’t tell me there aren’t 2 or 3 of the top 150 who have the marks who wouldn’t want to go to our College—for the very same reasons that Coach Willard has been able to attract the kind of kids we have now. 90%, I posit, could have gone to other schools and didn’t. Added to the good reasons currently in existence for going to the Cross, add the benefits of playing the best competition on national T.V. We might get 4 or 5 instead of 2 or 3.
I would make it known to all recruits that they are expected to stay for 4 years or go somewhere else. That’s my fantasy. Or is it? I would like to hear comments from the panel or from anyone else interested in responding. In the meantime I couldn’t be more proud of Coach Willard and the team

Tim Shea ’61

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I hope the college will not make any major changes to its sports programs. I enjoy following the teams at their current level of competition. Competition at a higher level would require more athletic scholarships, especially in football. This is just not compatible with the size and academic standards of the college. I would rather see the college continue to seek recognition through its academic and service achievements.

James Walsh ’71

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You don't have to go to Texas to think Holy Cross is a cemetery, because Patriot games are totally ignored in New Jersey, as well. I recall, when Holy Cross last played and beat Army, an awed football fan asked me, “Where was Holy Cross?” The League must press sportswriters to promote its schools and the student/athlete approach.

Dan Nevins ’52

 

 

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