During his tenure, University President Richard Levin has had many priorities for our University. Athletics have not been one of them. Levin capped the number of spots for recruited athletes at roughly 180 students per incoming class, down from the 230 the Ivy League allows.
Our board, like Yale’s campus, is divided on this issue. But President-elect Peter Salovey must speak now. With the athletic recruitment process winding down and the regular decision Class of 2017 set to be announced this month, prospective Yalies deserve to hear where his administration will stand on athletics before they decide where to matriculate.
Some of us believe the recruiting cap must remain in place.
Each student admitted to Yale comes with an opportunity cost. Roughly 50 more athletes in each Yale class means 50 fewer students who add to this campus in innumerable ways beyond athletics. It is unclear why athletes should receive an official advantage in an admissions process that should evaluate the whole applicant, not just a part of their resume.
Though our athletic admissions standards are particularly high compared to those at other schools, they are not at the level of regular admission, otherwise institutional athletic preference would be unnecessary. And this preference only takes away from the Admissions Office’s concerted efforts to recruit STEM majors and underrepresented minorities.
Moreover, many Yalies remain unaffected by the state of campus athletics; they did not choose to attend Yale for its sports. Admitting one more talented musician or writer adds more value to the lives of many Yalies than an additional athletic recruit.
Some of us, however, believe the cap must be lifted.
It is unfair for Yale to ask the athletes it recruits to join teams with shorthanded rosters. Too many teams at Yale — especially those with less campus presence than football or hockey — are unable to compete with clear opportunities for victory because they have been handicapped by recruitment caps. At a University that purports to strive for excellence, asking our athletes to compete on half-filled teams is a hollow and unfair charge.
By disadvantaging teams via arbitrary caps, Yale creates an anti-athlete culture that devalues these contributions relative to other pursuits. At a University that supposedly prides itself on inclusivity, this policy seems hypocritical.
Returning to the Ivy standard would not risk compromising academic excellence. Yale must maintain the strict academic standards that the University already employs. Yale already holds its recruited athletes to the most rigorous standards in the Ivy League, and ensures that athletic admissions are a part of the broader processes of the Admissions Office. And even with 50 more recruits per class, Yale will have roughly 1,100 spaces in each class to find scientists and performers.
But regardless, we all recognize that athletics have tremendous power to bring people together. On a campus often divided into small groups, we need moments like The Game to bring Yalies together with one mindset.
On a campus divided, now is the time for Salovey’s silence to end. Only he can determine how these games, ones with immense legacy and tradition for Yale, will be played in years to come.