Wednesday, January 09, 2008


Segue of the day: Some random internet dude was speculating that Carleton's incoming president, Dr. Roseann Runte, left her previous post at Old Dominion University because of the Virginia school is making upgrades to its football program.

That sounds like a completely batshit conclusion. Dr. Runte won't have to worry about football -- at least for now. Hey, the decision to discontinue football in 1999 hurt at the time (especially if you were a Queen's undergrad whose beloved Golden Gaels were suddenly deprived of a guaranteed win), but it has the best move Carleton ever made -- next to hiring Dave Smart.


Dennis Prouse said...

As I football guy, I strongly disagree. I don't think you strengthen any athletic program by chopping it up. The net effect of dumping the football team, and other varsity sports, at Carleton was to make the athletic program even more elitist. Think about it -- there are 60 players on a football team, along with about 8-10 coaches and about five support staff. Basketball has 12 players (three of whom likely never see the floor), and a radically smaller coaching and support staff. I don't say this as an anti-basketball comment, because I think basketball is a terrific sport with plenty of positives, but between football and basketball, which sport do you think does more to involve students? Kudos to Carleton for developing an elite basketball program, but they did absolutely nothing for the development of athletics and campus life by playing Dr. Kevorkian to the football program.

Killing football was the easy way out. The harder route, and the one they should have taken, would have been to tap the alumni and re-dedicate themselves to putting a competitive football team on the field.

The approach Carleton took reminds me very much of what many American schools did in order to comply with Title IX - instead of increasing the number of women's varsity sports, they simply euthanized a bunch of the men's sports (wrestling was the obvious target) in order to meet the criteria. I believe the term is, "pyrrhic victory"...

sager said...

That might be true in the abstract sense, D.P., but remember the context of that decision.

It was the late '90s, there were cutbacks all over the place at the Ontario universities (Mike Harris, remember?). Football was the sport that was being put through the wringer; Toronto tried to kill it, and it looked like Queen's was trying to pretend it away for a time.

Secondly, to say dropping football did nothing is a big absur d... what was student attendance like for non-Panda Game football contests throughout most of the '90s? Now Carleton gets 1,200-1,500 people out about 15 times a year to watch their basketball team. The alumni also voted with their time and their wallets to revive hockey at the school.

Dennis Prouse said...

Just as alumni voted with their time and wallets to bring back hockey (which has been a tremendous success to date), I think they would do the same for football, provided they knew they weren't wasting their time. For as long as Drew Love was at Carleton, it was pointless to even try. If a new President, however, says something to the effect of, "I would love to see football back here, and I pledge to give it my support, provided I know that the alumni are onside and ready to help", I think the reaction would be very positive. Your point about things being different back when this decision was taken is fair one. The growth in football in the last ten years throughout Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec, though, also means that conditions may be right for a revival.

sager said...

Bottom line is we're arguing the same principle, Dennis -- athletic opportunity should be proportionate to interest.

With respect to football, since Carleton left 3 schools have joined the CIS for football, and I'm on the record saying there should be about 5 more. Given the growth in youth football, which you can speak to, that would be warranted (especially when you see the shift in boys not applying to university).

Whether Carleton is among them, though, is another story.

Equity is something that will take a generation or two to work out.

With respect to the battle of the sexes, it was so one-sided for so long that we almost need to tilt the playing field the other way for a couple generations.

In time, some equilibrium will be found. It's regettable that NCAA schools cut off wrestling to spare King Football... it's nuts to read how in order to meet Title IX requirements, some schools started women's lacrosse programs and actually had to recruit fastpitch and soccer players, since there weren't that many female lax players.

(Can you imagine any men's team sport that would have to bring athletes over from other sports getting scholarship status?)

In time, that will all even out, ideally.

sager said...

It's certainly reasonable to wonder about Carleton getting back into the game in the light of the football revival in E. Ont/W. Quebec.

A lot depends on the president and the AD.

Dennis Prouse said...

FWIW, the current Carleton AD, Jennifer Brenning, is one who strongly resisted a push to tube football at Ottawa U. in the late 1990s. As you may recall, Ottawa U's football program at the time had some issues, to put it mildly, and Jennifer Brenning was brought in to clean up the mess. There was a push in some quarters to simply can the program to make the problems go away. She refused to go along, and may have saved the program as a result. I put some hope in that development when it comes to football at Carleton. I don't think she is spending every day planning for football's return right now, but if a new University President comes in on July 1 and is keen to see it happen, why wouldn't Brenning want to give it a shot?