Although Yale College only requires students to live in on-campus housing for their freshman and sophomore years, members of the football team will now have to remain on campus for their junior year.
Head football coach Tony Reno informed members of the team of the new policy last semester. As the first Yale football coach to promote such a rule, Reno said he will make the policy known to all potential recruits for the team in coming years. He added that the policy aims to encourage football players to integrate more fully into their residential colleges and to afford them access to better nutrition and academic resources than they might find off campus.
“One of the most important things in our recruiting is that we make a big deal about the residential colleges,” Reno said. “If you’re going to base your program on that and you’re not going to encourage students to live there, you’re really not practicing what you preach.”
Reno added that the policy is not related to football players’ participation in Greek life, or the Delta Kappa Epsilon and Zeta Psi fraternities specifically, which have the reputation of drawing football players.
Team captain Beau Palin ’14 said the team was first informed about the policy upon returning to school following the end of their season in the fall. He added that there was debate about the policy when Reno announced it to the team’s leadership council, but the council ultimately supported Reno’s decision.
“I’m a senior so I can move off campus, and I will be moving off campus,” Palin said. “We trust that his suggestions are in the best interests of the team.”
The rule will only apply through a player’s junior year, as seniors are only on the team during the fall semester, Palin said.
Director of Athletics Tom Beckett said students will be able to petition the coaching staff and their college deans to live off campus during their junior year on a case-by-case basis. Beckett said the policy was only enforced by “a suggestion that carries a lot of weight” from Reno. Council of Masters Chair Jonathan Holloway, Dean of Student Affairs Marichal Gentry and John Meeske, dean of undergraduate organizations and physical resources, all said masters and deans have “no authority” to enforce this policy, as Yale Undergraduate Regulations allow juniors and seniors to move off campus.
Gentry said he agrees with Reno that living on campus is better for students’ nutrition.
“When you’re living off campus, buying food and cooking are additional necessities that take time, and can be costly,” Gentry said. “I think it is much more convenient for students to eat healthfully when the food is accessible, and already prepared for them.”
Meeske said the University would not have enough dorm space if a large number of other coaches instituted similar policies. He added that on-campus housing is currently approaching capacity, but will be able to house the extra football players who will live on campus next year.
Reno was introduced as the 34th head coach of Yale Football on Jan. 12, 2012.