Many Elis would be surprised to see their school ranked eighth or 23rd in any setting, but that is where Yale stands in this year’s NCSA Power Rankings.
Yale finished eighth among Division I programs and 23rd among Divisions I, II and III in the National Collegiate Scouting Association’s yearly ranking system. Among Ivy League schools, Yale was fourth behind Princeton (4th in Division I), Harvard (5th) and Dartmouth (7th). The top two programs in Division I were Duke and Stanford, while overall the top three were Williams, Amherst, and Middlebury, all of which come from Division III.
Beginning in 2004, the NCSA began ranking college programs based on academics, athletics and student-athlete graduation rates. The ranking was developed by the association’s founder and CEO Chris Krause to encourage student-athletes and parents to help select “the most complete and well-rounded schools” for their college years, the NCSA Website said.
“We wanted to use the most objective measuring systems that relate directly to ultimate success in the field of matching collegiate programs with qualified high school student athletes,” Krause said. “The US News and World Report represents academic quality, the Directors Cup demonstrates commitment and achievement in athletics and last and most important, student athlete graduation rate shows commitment in graduating student athletes. By blending these three factors equally, we feel we are able to shine a light on the schools that would best fit the needs of student athletes.”
The Collegiate Power Rankings are calculated for each school at the NCAA Division I, II and III levels by averaging the U.S. News & World Report ranking, the U.S. Sports Academy Directors’ Cup ranking and the NCAA student-athlete graduation rate of each school, the website reports.
Although Yale ranked 8th among Division I schools, out of the top 25 overall programs, only 10 were in Division I athletics.
“The biggest trend we see is that is that about 75 percent of the programs that make our top 100 list are not Division IA programs,” Krause said. “Most of the best educational opportunities fall in the Division III and I-AA category which offer hope to students athletes who want to use athletics as a vehicle for a top education. In Division III, athletics are not as much of a business. The time commitment is less, and the focus is usually more on academics. Student athletes at Division III programs are usually more focused on an MBA than the NBA.”
Because of the rigorous academic standards for recruiting at Ivy League schools, they are more likely to be hurt in the rankings, he said. Additionally, affordability of the education may be better at schools that offer better athletic aid than Ivies, he said.
Despite Yale ranking eighth in Division I and 23rd overall, Yale Athletic Director Thomas Beckett said he does not pay much attention to rankings such as this because he has a different focus.
“What Yale does is to stay true to the mission of the University and to stay true to the role of varsity athletics in relation to the mission,” Beckett said. “Where that puts us in any given poll or snapshot is not anything we are all that concerned with. We’re simply trying to find the best and brightest, doing everything we can to enhance the experience of student athletes on campus, and stay true to what athletics are about.”
Krause’s assessment of Yale’s placement at No. 23 is hopeful. He indicated that perhaps the number 23 sounds worse than it is.
“The fact that Yale is in the top 25 tells me that Yale University has a commitment to excellence not only academically but athletically as well,” he said.
This sort of balance is what convinced rookie Trey Rallis ’10 to play baseball for the Elis. Although he was recruited by numerous other Division I schools, he said he chose Yale because of its personal attention to recruits and athletes, as well as the programs themselves.
“I wanted a school that had a good combination of baseball and academics,” Rallis said. “It doesn’t get any bigger than Division I and Yale really seems to care about its athlete programs.”
Rallis said that the incredible facilities are just another indicator of the university’s commitment to its athletics.
Yet not all athletes feel as though Yale has done everything that it can.
“Athletics at Yale have a ways to go,” men’s ice hockey captain Matthew Cohen ’07 said. “[Yale] could put more emphasis on athletics. It is important for Yale to be recognized for balancing academics and athletics.”
But despite Cohen’s sentiments, he said the ranking does not have a great degree of relevance.
In the name of rankings, even Yale’s non-athletes want to make sure that the school achieves top mark.
“Yale definitely has the resources to rise to the top of such a simple ranking as this,” Adam Gardner ’09 said. “Anything called a Power Ranking is something Yale would and should be able to handle.”
Because the goal of the Power Ranking is to allow student athletes to get off the name game of thinking that the only good programs are the ones that they see on ESPN on Saturdays, as Krause said, Yale is placed in an interesting position. Yale’s recruits, like Rallis, chose the school because of its it’s strong off-the-field reputation.
At the end of the day, most believe that rankings have little to do with the actual quality of the program.
“We have a wonderful league, a tremendous philosophy and the mission of the University is one that I am proud of,” Beckett said. “I know that the ambition and dream of every athlete and every coach at Yale is the quest for Ivy Championships and that’s what we are working hard to achieve, all with the backdrop of arguably the finest university in the world.”