Hobart To D3: The Reaction

Hobart To D3: The Reaction

Hobart To D3: The Reaction

Hobart To D3: The Reaction

May 2nd Update - Hobart Back To D1

This is the letter last night from Hobart's Board Chairman:

To the Hobart and William Smith Colleges Community:

As you may know, last Saturday the Hobart and William Smith Board of Trustees voted to reclassify our Hobart lacrosse program from Division I to Division III.

The decision was met with an outpouring of letters, e-mails and phone calls from alumni, alumnae, parents and friends. Some have been excited about this development while others have encouraged us to reconsider. We have been humbled by the number of alumni and alumnae who have written movingly about their own college experiences and the role that athletics and teamwork have played in molding their identities. What is consistent in all of this correspondence is a strong level of pride and enthusiasm for our Colleges and their heritage.

The community's confidence in the Colleges and in our lacrosse program to compete at the highest level has emboldened us and we are reminded anew of the spirit and tradition that inspires us all.

I write at this time to inform you of the Board's action today. After listening to the many voices and perspectives on this issue, the Board has determined that Hobart lacrosse should remain in Division I. As always, we will continue to pay close attention to the ongoing development of all of our athletic programs and will continue to uphold advanced standards of excellence in academic programs that extend into the co-curricular and athletic lives of our students.

As an alumnus and chair of the Board, I am proud that so many of my fellow alumni, alumnae and parents took the time and effort to express their views. I hope you will join me tomorrow night at 7 p.m. on Boswell Field. We have secured portable lighting for the first night game on the `Boz' as Hobart faces Cornell in one of the oldest rivalries in collegiate lacrosse.

All the best,

David H. Deming '75
Chair, Board of Trustees
Hobart and William Smith Colleges

End of Update

Jamie Kirk finished off a hat trick with 1:37 left to play – the icing on the cake in a 10-6 Hobart upset of ECAC champion Loyola. It was the biggest win of Hobart’s season, but what came next blindsided everybody.

“When the kids came to the tailgate where the parents were it was clear there had been a lot of tears, a lot of anger, and a lot of shock,” said Joe Silberlicht, who’s son Max is Hobart’s goalie. “It was going from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows in the space of about two minutes. I would say we were stunned, like we’d been kicked in the gut.”

Hobart had just beaten Loyola, was two years removed from beating Syracuse in the Carrier Dome, and was a week away from another showdown with in-state rival Cornell. Those match-ups will exist no longer.

“Those games are gone,” said former Statesmen, and current Rochester Rattlers coach BJ O’Hara. “If somebody thinks that the people in Ithaca or the people in Syracuse are going to do Hobart a favor they’re crazy. Those games are gone. It’s certainly going to change the face of the program.”

That face will be remarkably different starting next spring. Hobart is reclassifying back to a Division III program, reversing a switch made in the mid ‘90’s when the Statesmen shifted up to DI.

“Every 10 minutes there’s a new email on this chain we’ve got going of alumni, and I haven’t seen one that’s supported the move,” said former Hobart captain and current member of Major League Lacrosse’s San Francisco Dragons Chris Scanlon. The midfielder learned of the decision via text message from his brother.

Athletic Director Mike Hanna said a lot of the move is financially motivated. Hobart doesn’t give out scholarships and has other limitations on the grants and self-help the school can provide. Resources, Hanna said, are also an issue when trying to compete with area powers like Syracuse and Cornell as well as ECAC foes like Georgetown, Loyola, and Rutgers. Hanna said the financial constraints play a big role when it comes to recruiting – explaining the difficulty of telling recruits why there are no scholarships and why there never will be.

“We have X number of excellent players and all the other teams have X-plus-five number of excellent players,” said Hanna. “As talented as we are, the Georgetown’s and the Syracuse’s and all the other teams that we’re facing week in and week out are deeper with talent than we are.”

Hanna’s view isn’t necessarily shared by all others associated with the program. Silberlicht, who’s son ranks top-10 nationally in save percentage, pointed at the current roster to prove there is plenty of talent to go around. The Statesmen have a player in the top 20 in both goals and points, while Kirk sits in the top 10 for assists. Dan Spinella has spent time this year ranked second in faceoff win percentage. As a whole, Hobart is top 11 in both offense and defense.

There are other schools that don’t give scholarships. What’s the difference with Hobart? Ivy League programs like Princeton and Cornell make due without giving money. Patriot League schools do the same. Hanna said the comparison wasn’t equal, citing further resources Ancient Eight schools have at their disposal and his understanding that the Patriot League might begin handing out scholarships.

Hanna also shot down a comparison to Johns Hopkins, another school that plays Division III for sports outside of its DI lacrosse program. Unlike Hobart, Hanna said, Hopkins has been granted a waiver by the NCAA and has scholarships as well as an endowment over one billion dollars. For the AD this was far from being an “apples to apples” analogy.

Whatever the rational for reclassifying, Silberlicht feels like a good explanation has yet to be provided.

“(Hanna’s) sort of pinning it on ‘this is the best decision for the institution in the long run.’ But he hasn’t made any argument that helps us understand how they can reach that conclusion,” Silberlicht said. “I happen to think, and I think most of the parents would agree, that Division I lacrosse at a small educationally competitive institution like Hobart – having DI lacrosse is one of the things that makes it unique. Taking that away is going to take away part of their marketing advantage for that school. I think it could actually do exactly the reverse of what they expect it to do. I think it could hurt the institution.”

And that feeling has led to a lot of backlash amongst alumni.

“For the most part, anybody who has played Division I for Hobart at this point, as well as people who have played Division III, are pretty upset and disappointed,” said Scanlon. Right now my heart goes out to the players and the coaching staff. I’m more disappointed with the board of trustees. I’m disappointed with the athletic director. I’m disappointed with the president of our college.”

Not only was the announcement a shock, but the timing was as well. Hanna felt the time was right being that it was alumni weekend and the players, parents, and alums would all be on hand for the announcement. The decision wasn’t released prior to the season because no conclusion had been reached at that point, and the end of the year was not a possibility as Hanna wanted to allow the players time to decide their futures. The athletic director also didn’t want rumors dangling in the week leading up to the Cornell game. O’Hara doesn’t see it the same way.

“I guess the timing of it, to me, was the most unusual part of it,” the former coach said. “They gave the news to the athletes immediately after a game with still another game left in the season and at a time of the year when the college admissions recruiting cycle is pretty much coming to a conclusion.”

The former coach was also thrown off guard by the way the alumni were informed. While not at the get-together, O’Hara said he understands the alums were all told of the decision while at a local pub down the street.

“I’m told the athletic director, after telling the team and the parents, went up to the bar and told the alums,” O’Hara said. “That part is pretty bush league if you ask me.”

To further complicate the issue, O’Hara remembers back to the ‘90’s when Hobart explored and then followed through with its move to Division I. He sees little similarity in the way both choices were made.

“When Hobart made the decision to go Division I, it was a very lengthy, thoughtful, out in the open and transparent process that involved discussions and conversations with all facets of the community,” O’Hara said. “It took several years. This process doesn’t appear to have any of that…clearly the research and the recommendation was made by a couple of individuals, and it was the same people that recommended Hobart go to Division I in the first place. That doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence in my mind.”

Hanna also seems to be one of the few optimistic about Hobart’s chances to keep alive it’s Division I rivalries. Without the need to adhere to DIII scheduling regulations until 2011, Hanna hopes to continue playing schools like Syracuse and Cornell, maybe even a complete ECAC slate over the next couple of years. The AD says he’s already begun reaching out to Division I schools and requesting Hobart be given a placeholder on their schedules for the time being. O’Hara and Orange head coach John Desko were less optimistic.

“I haven’t had the time to do a lot of research with it,” Desko said. “But anymore with your strength of schedule and your RPI being so important to the selection process and then to the seeding once you get in (to the NCAA tournament), it probably doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to play a Division III team, and NCAA-wise we might not be able to.”

While Hanna said he’s been contacted by former Division III rivals excited about renewing their battles, O’Hara says the loss of the Division I rivalries takes away part of what made Hobart lacrosse special. Silberlicht goes further, saying losing DI lacrosse takes away part of Hobart’s appeal to student athletes.

“Max’s decision to go was that Hobart had two things he was looking for – a small high quality liberal arts college and Division I lacrosse,” his father Joe said. “Now that Division I lacrosse is gone, it’s going to be a real tough decision for him to decide what to do. The only thing on his mind right now is beating Cornell Friday night. After that, we’ve got a lot of decisions to make.”

“Without Division I lacrosse, Hobart’s going to look like every other small liberal arts college in the northeast that plays lacrosse,” O’Hara added. “They’re going to be competing for the same kids. With a Division I opportunity they attracted different kinds of kids than they typically will get in the future, and if they don’t believe that they’re naive.”

The Statesmen’s future remains unclear. It’s yet to be seen if and how many players may transfer and how the incoming recruiting class reacts. O’Hara also mentioned he’s heard rumblings about the possibility of a new coaching staff in Geneva.

The school’s NCAA Tournament status is also fuzzy. As of now Hobart will not be eligible for the postseason until 2011, but an appeal has been made to wave the two year reclassifying period. Hanna’s not too confident, saying no such waiver has ever been granted before. Scanlon can see why players would be frustrated with the road ahead.

“You make a distinct decision as a player in high school, if you have the talent, to go Division I,” Scanlon said. “That’s something you want to do. That’s a dream you want to follow through on. There’s more to college than just lacrosse, but that’s a pretty big part.”

Scanlon said the alumni have started an online petition to voice their concern and discontent over the move – and the motives behind it.

“As a lot of the alumni are talking,” said Scanlon, “we’re finding out that (the decision) was (made) behind closed doors and there are a few people that pushed it that might be big contributors in terms of money.”

One thing Hanna confirmed was not a factor was Hobart’s inability to win consistently on the Division I level, and he said he can sympathize with all involved.

“My heart is with this team, my best judgment and my head are with the future of Hobart lacrosse and what’s best for the program going ahead,” Hanna said. “While I looked at it as a former coach and a former team captain at Hobart and as a father of a player, in the end my job is to do what is best for this institution.”

Post A Comment To This Story >

Why??
    by (#167651) on 5/01/08 @4:49PM
I see absolutely no point in reclassifying Hobart to DIII. They seem to do quite well in DI, regardless of the fact that they don't offer scholarships. In addition, there are teams alot worse than Hobart in DI that remain playing in DI. I simply don't understand why they should reclassify. The way I look at it, the more the merrier in DI lacrosse.
 
Reply to this

B J
    by (#127752) on 5/01/08 @5:43PM
Should keep his big @#$%^&' Irish mug shut. The guy hasn't been back to Geneva for over ten years. There's a reason. Obviously he hasn't let go of being sacked as the head coach there, has an axe to grind with the AD, and the press finally gave him a platform to brandish it in public. Shut up and coach, COACH.
 
Reply to this

Patriot League
    by (#41909) on 5/01/08 @6:38PM
The entire Patriot League doesn't give out scholarships. Why not just try to rejoin the league? I feel like this is just bad for D1 in general. We need to be adding teams not dropping them. But all I have to say is Cortland, Salisbury, and Middlebury must be pissed.
 
Reply to this

   
Patriot League
    by (#197356) on 5/01/08 @10:31PM
Hobart was asked to leave the Patriot League due to their then associate, not full membership, status. A few Patriot League full members do currently offer athletic scholarship- Colgate is one of them. The Patriot League was a great fit for Hobart during their 4 years. They won the title 2 of those 4 years. This was prior to Navy joining that league, but the competition and overall mission of the league was a great fit.
 
Reply to this

   
Pissed?
    by (#197365) on 5/02/08 @12:55AM
Do you think the Gulls would be pissed if Lehigh moved to D3? Lehigh might get some wins so they would be happy. They could battle ST. Mary's and Villa Julie. Salisbury prob would just go out and win another championship though. Yea I think they would be indifferent if Lehigh were to move.

However it would be interesting to see what would happen if Hobart played them, prob a good game. I agree watch out Cortland, SU, and Middlebury.


 
Reply to this

      
Lehigh?
    by (#142666) on 5/02/08 @10:10AM
They're a D1 school. (1AA in football) Q: for what reason would the Hawks want to play D3 lacrosse? Or are you asking a rhetorical question?
 
Reply to this

Sign!
    by (#46692) on 5/01/08 @6:52PM
A group of Alumni and fans have started up a petition against the Board of Trustees decision.
Please support our petition and Help Hobart remain Division 1
http://www.petitiononline.com/hobart21/petition.html
Thanks!
 
Reply to this

AND THEY'RE BACK...
    by (#139732) on 5/01/08 @10:55PM
Hobart's AD has let it out that the program, in response to anger by the alumni, has decided to remain in D1.

VINDICATION! Long live the Statesmen!
 
Reply to this

Never mind
    by (#142666) on 5/01/08 @11:26PM
Major miscalculation by those responsible for last week's idiotic decision. With tonight's news, the players will now continue to compete against the best in the nation -- as promised during recruitment.
 
Reply to this

Smoke 'Em if ya Got 'Em!
    by (#127752) on 5/02/08 @6:31AM
I can't believe what I just heard. Uncork the good stuff (MD 20/20), it's party time. I hope the 5 day bump in the D I road didn't disrupt whatever recruit commitments Hobart had, but I'm glad they're back. The Board, the Athletic Association and the President should be recognized for listening to the voice of the players, parents, students and the alumni community.

But, there's some immediate bidness to tend to this evening in the way of Big Red. I believe Cornell needs this game tonight to get into the tournament? 'Should be a great game - Go Statesmen.
 
Reply to this

   
Wow
    by (#1248) on 5/02/08 @7:13AM
I personally didn't see it as that big a deal that they were moving back, but after reading the reaction from those close to the program I have a better understanding of why this was so upsetting. I guess if you're not too close to the Hobart program, you can't really understand. The good thing to come out of this is that people actually do have a voice. Too many times in our society decisions are made like this behind closed doors without consulting the people the decision affects. It's great to see the people who cared so much about the decision voiced their opionioin and ultimately they were heard. It's a great day for Hobart Lacrosse and for the voice of the people.
 
Reply to this

HOBART REVERSES DECISION: BACK TO D1
    by (#197374) on 5/02/08 @9:48AM
This release went out from Hobart today:


HWS Board to Alums: We Heard You
Printable ArticleEmail this Article

After a week of reaction to the April 26 decision by the Board of Trustees to move Hobart lacrosse from Division I to Division III, last night the Board gathered via phone to assess the situation.

The engagement of our alums was impressive, says President Mark D. Gearan. Clearly they love the Colleges and are proud of our student-athletes.

It was that passionate engagement that tipped the balance for the Board. We were reminded of the spirit and tradition that inspires us all, says Board Chair David Deming 75. The communitys confidence emboldened us.

In a landmark decision, the Board determined that Hobart should remain in Division I lacrosse.

Last night, President Gearan told the lacrosse team and a letter from Deming was sent via e-mail to alumni, alumnae, faculty, staff and students (see below).

Hobart faces Cornell tonight at 7 p.m. in one of the oldest rivalries in collegiate lacrosse. The Colleges have secured lighting for what will be the first night game on Boswell Field.

To the Hobart and William Smith Colleges Community:

As you may know, last Saturday the Hobart and William Smith Board of Trustees voted to reclassify our Hobart lacrosse program from Division I to Division III.

The decision was met with an outpouring of letters, e-mails and phone calls from alumni, alumnae, parents and friends. Some have been excited about this development while others have encouraged us to reconsider. We have been humbled by the number of alumni and alumnae who have written movingly about their own college experiences and the role that athletics and teamwork have played in molding their identities. What is consistent in all of this correspondence is a strong level of pride and enthusiasm for our Colleges and their heritage.

The communitys confidence in the Colleges and in our lacrosse program to compete at the highest level has emboldened us and we are reminded anew of the spirit and tradition that inspires us all.

I write at this time to inform you of the Boards action today. After listening to the many voices and perspectives on this issue, the Board has determined that Hobart lacrosse should remain in Division I. As always, we will continue to pay close attention to the ongoing development of all of our athletic programs and will continue to uphold advanced standards of excellence in academic programs that extend into the co-curricular and athletic lives of our students.

As an alumnus and chair of the Board, I am proud that so many of my fellow alumni, alumnae and parents took the time and effort to express their views. I hope you will join me tomorrow night at 7 p.m. on Boswell Field. We have secured portable lighting for the first night game on the Boz as Hobart faces Cornell in one of the oldest rivalries in collegiate lacrosse.

All the best,

David H. Deming 75
Chair, Board of Trustees
Hobart and William Smith Colleges


 
Reply to this