Athletics under the microscope at Amherst

Amherst is in the process of reassessing the place of athletics at the college, with top concerns including:

–the relative lack of racial and socioeconomic diversity among athletes (73% of male athletes are white while only 35% of non-athletes are white; only 6% of male athletes are low income while 31% of non-athletes are)
–creeping roster size (primarily a lacrosse and track issue)
–the social divide between athletes and non-athletes (reflected in the tendency of athletes to congregate in particular dorms and to dominate the party scene and exacerbated by the size of the athletes’ cohort at Amherst (35-38% of the student body))
–the tendency of athletes to concentrate in certain academic disciplines (economics, political science, and history) and to avoid some disciplines (like the sciences) and to exhibit other academic shortcomings (favoring large over small classes and writing senior theses at a much lower rate than non-athletes)
–a concern about the growth in the length of the season and number of games due to a substantial increase in post-season play
–a concern about concussions (the report cites 4 and 6 concussions for members of the men’s hockey teams in 2013 and 2014 and suggests that 3 concussions should result in the end of an athlete’s Amherst playing career)

On the positive side for athletes, the report noted that athletes have higher graduation rates than non-athletes and, likely most important from the administration’s perspective, are more likely to be donors to Amherst (for example, in 2015 76% of 1960s’ graduates who were athletes contributed versus 56% of non-athletes) and to make large contributions (a whopping 78% of the members of Amherst’s Founders Society (those whose cumulative gifts total $1 million or more) are former athletes). The documentation of athletes’ much-stronger-than-average financial commitment to Amherst over the long term is not surprising but is an eye opener in explaining just how important this ongoing commitment is to an institution like Amherst and likely many other NESCAC schools.

It is unclear what, if anything, this study and the ongoing assessment/review will mean for the place of athletics at Amherst. Williams’ undertook a similar study several years ago  with long-term negative consequences for several of the men’s “team” sports (most notably football) but with no apparent impact on men’s hockey or any of the many “individual” sports in which Williams excels (swimming, track, tennis, etc). More committees are to be involved in the review process at Amherst and many of the existing recommendations are on the soft side. Its impact on the hockey program is even harder to discern. The hockey team does not suffer from creeping roster size (quite the opposite, in fact, as the Amherst roster is more often than not one of the leanest in the NESCAC) but does suffer from the lack of racial diversity (as do all NESCAC and other college hockey teams) and is one of the teams that tends to have  longer seasons due to Amherst’s frequent post-season success. Finally, there has been considerable concern about the place of athletics at Amherst in recent months due to the recent exposure of bad behavior (of the sexist and misogynist sort) on the part of some members of the men’s cross-country team.

Here is a link to Amherst President Biddy Martin’s statement on the study, which includes a link to the study but also says that the study will only be available online for a limited (and unspecified) time period. Due to the fact that the report may soon not be accessible to the public via the Amherst website, here is another link to the study, which is entitled The Place of Athletics at Amherst College.


two D1 transfers and one D3 transfer to NESCAC schools at the semester break

Updated on Jan. 6, 2017, to add a Conn College transfer

Two goalies transferred to NESCAC schools at the semester break from other college programs, with former Quinnipiac goalie Sean Lawrence transferring to Colby and former Endicott goalie Connor Rodericks transferring to Conn College. Former Bentley d-man Andy Chugg transferred to Trinity at the semester break and has already seen action in Trinity’s 2-1 win over Adrian.

Lawrence has gaudy junior credentials from the USPHL (league MVP, for example, in 2014 for the Boston Jr Bruins) but saw little action at Quinnipiac (7 games over 2 seasons with weak stats). Rodericks had solid stats during two years with the Walpole Express in the EHL and got the start and the win in his first game since joining the Camels (a 5-2 win over Manhattanville on Jan. 5) although he did not see action for Endicott. Chugg played in 12 games for Bentley in his one year with the Falcons. All three should play significant roles for their new teams, with each player providing needed depth at key positions (Andrew Tucci has been spectacular in net for the Mules but, before the Lawrence transfer, Colby did not have an experienced goalie as an alternative to Tucci; Conn College has relied on a threesome of inexperienced goalies). Go here for more detail on their backgrounds.

NESCAC recruits for the class of 2021

We are at or near the end of assembling the names of NESCAC recruits for the class of 2021, with 84 names in the database. The list contains several impressive names, with Trinity’s incoming class looking the strongest. Early decisions were released between Dec. 3 and 16 (round 1) and Feb. 2 and 12 (round 2); regular admission decisions were released between March 17 and 30. Transfer admissions decisions were made in late April and early May. You can submit additional names or corrections by clicking this link and using this form.

Last updated on:

Aug 30 with a Colby recruit
Aug 26 with a Hamilton recruit
Aug 21 with a Hamilton recruit
July 20 with a Tufts recruit
July 7 with a Trinity recruit
July 6 with a Trinity recruit
June 9 with a Trinity recruit
June 6 with a Conn College recruit

Rating the NESCAC recruits

The top 5 finishers in this year’s rankings of incoming recruits—Amherst, Bowdoin, Tufts, Middlebury, and Trinity—are close together, with only small differences separating each of them.

Two of the bottom-five schools (Hamilton and Colby at 9th and 10th) have deep rosters of experienced returning players, with very few openings in the regular rotation, and should not suffer from having relatively small incoming classes. Conversely, 2 of the teams in the top 5 (Amherst and Middlebury) suffered heavy graduation losses so taking it easy on the recruiting front was not an option for either school.

The team likely to suffer the most serious consequences from below-average recruiting is Conn College and its 7th ranked class of recruits. The Camels suffered great losses to graduation, losing players who scored 59% of its goals and its no. 1 goalie to graduation, and will likely continue to struggle to qualify for post-season play. Continue reading

Preview for the 2016-17 NESCAC season

The preseason predictions for the top 4 finishers in the NESCAC regular season are: (1) Trinity; (2) Bowdoin; (3) Hamilton; and (4) Williams. Trinity, which won the NESCAC championship in 2016 after a no. 2 finish in the regular season, is favored to capture the regular season championship but can expect a battle for the no. 1 spot. The next 4 finishers in the 5th through 8th spots—Tufts (5), Amherst (6), Colby (7), and Middlebury (8)—are bunched close together and with up-and-down movement likely within those 4 and even with those in the top 4. Wesleyan (9) and Conn College (10) are once again predicted to finish out of the running for play-off spots, but can likely be counted on to make trouble for the teams above them.

Teams facing big challenges this year include Middlebury, which lost 60% of its goals and 63% of its offensive production to graduation, and Conn College, which lost 59% of its goals and 49% of its offensive production to graduation. Middlebury also lost 44% of game experience to graduation and other departures, with Amherst not too far behind with a 37% loss of game experience. Conversely, teams with built-in advantages on the experience front include Bowdoin and Colby, with Bowdoin losing only 8% of game experience to graduation and Colby losing just 12%. Similarly, each team returns most of its offensive production, with Colby returning 91% of its points and Bowdoin not far behind at 89%. Continue reading

Trinity’s 2016-17 roster

At long last, Trinity has posted its 28-member 2016-17 roster, with no surprises. The 6 new players included in our recruits database are all on the roster, and the 22 veteran players that were expected to return are all on the roster.

Now that we have complete data for all 10 NESCAC teams, our season preview should be coming soon!

Amherst’s 2016-17 roster & preview

Amherst has, at long last, posted its 24-member roster for 2016-17, with no surprises. The roster includes all 8 freshman players that are included in our database and the 16 veterans from last year’s roster that were expected to return. While a 24-man roster seems like a small roster for the intense NESCAC season (3 goalies and 21 skaters), it is the same size as last year’s roster.

And here’s a link to a nice preview for Amherst’s upcoming season.

Now we are waiting only for the Trinity roster . . . .