Sarah Lawrence membership in NCAA might strike many people as odd. Or, at least it might not be the principal association one makes with our school. However, the questions are being asked and the decision has been made for Sarah Lawrence to join Division III of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. SLC is currently part of the Hudson Valley Athletic Conference in which we compete against other schools in the area — Mount St. Vincent, SUNY Purchase, Pratt, and the Culinary Institute of America, amongst others.
Just before spring break, President Karen Lawrence and Dean of Studies Allen Green hosted an open conversation with students about the pros and cons of joining the NCAA. This type of opportunity for dialogue is essential to the success of a school like SLC, and both Dean Green and President Lawrence shared some interesting insights. Much of the incentive appears to come from a desire to attract more applicants to the college, especially those who might be dissuaded by an perceived lack of opportunity to develop their athletic and academic pursuits: “It’s about recruiting other men and women can really thrive at Sarah Lawrence,” President Lawrence said.
However, current students are an equal factor in the equation. As Dean Green stated in the meeting, “Some of our teams really are competing at a level now that they can really be pushed to the next level…It’s about the scholar-athlete.” President Lawrence and Dean Green both spoke about the additional sense of community that membership in the NCAA would bring to SLC, and the sense of recognition it would offer athletes.
One of the biggest concerns on campus about the motion to join the NCAA is the issue of cost. It is no secret that SLC is without excess funding. As an article in the most recent issue of the Sarah Lawrence Magazine discusses, people are wondering if this is really the best way to be spending the money we have. That article cited the cost of joining the NCAA at around $150,000.00, which is no small sum. Nor is it unfathomable, but the question of appropriation of resources is vital in this process.
Another point of contention over this issue is whether it represents a change in the value set that Sarah Lawrence prescribes to. President Lawrence would tell you that “NCAA Division III is totally consistent with the ethos of Sarah Lawrence.” A quote from the Division III website states that “The Division III experience provides for passionate participation in a competitive athletic environment, where student-athletes push themselves to excellence, build upon their academic success with new challenges and life skills, and are encouraged to pursue the full spectrum of opportunities available during their time in college.” The Sarah Lawrence website advertises that athletics are “Guided by the college’s core principles of personal growth and development, the Sarah Lawrence College athletic program offers another avenue for students to augment their SLC experience.” Not too different…
Do you have an opinion on this? What are your thoughts, athlete or not?
For more information and statistics, make sure to check out the article in the most recent issue of the Sarah Lawrence Magazine.
Photo by Chloe Clasper Torch; the SLC boys soccer team celebrates after a successful game their fall season.