Faculty forum addresses Midwest Conference initiatives

Maureen Darras

The Committee on Recreation
and Intercollegiate Athletics held a
Faculty Forum to discuss Midwest
Conference initiatives regarding
recruiting and nontraditional seasons
Tuesday, Nov. 10. This forum
was open to all faculty members.
Members of the faculty were contacted
by e-mail before the forum with
information outlining the conference
proposals.
The forum was moderated by
Acting Director of Athletics and Head
Hockey Coach Mike Szkodzinski
and Associate Professor of Theatre
Kathy Privatt. In attendance were
nine faculty members, including
three faculty members serving
on the Committee on Recreation
and Intercollegiate Athletics:
Privatt, Professor of History Jerald
Podair and Associate Professor of
Chemistry David Hall. Three coaches
were also in attendance, including
Szkodzinksi.
The first initiative would transition
the Midwest Conference recruiting
policies to NCAA Division III
guidelines. Currently, Lawrence operates
under the stricter guidelines of
the Midwest Conference, which specify
that coaches are not permitted
to enter high schools for meetings
with the coaches or recruits during
school hours. Furthermore, coaches
are not allowed to enter the homes
of recruits.
Szkodzinski believes these limitations
hamper Lawrence coaches’
recruiting efficacy and efficiency.
“It’s individual attention that nets the
most [recruits],” stated Szkodzinski.
“The key to landing a student-athlete
is the personal connection with the
student, the personal connection
with the family and again, giving the
personal attention to them that we
are known for here at Lawrence.”
Head Softball Coach Kim Tatro
explained that these restrictions
deter football recruits the most,
stating, “The home visit is such a
big part of the culture of football
recruiting.”
Nancy Wall, associate dean of
the faculty and associate professor
of biology, spoke of the benefits of
this initiative, stating, “In a world
where communication has become
less personal it seems [.] to be actually
more in character with Lawrence
as an institution to make recruiting
even more personal.”
Stewart Purkey, associate professor
of education, served as NCAA
Faculty Athletics Representative on
the Committee on Recreation and
Intercollegiate Athletics 2006-2007.
He commented, “In the past … we
didn’t do this partly as a way of
distinguishing ourselves from other
conferences, and clearly times seem
to have changed in terms of getting
people to come here. So what we did
in the past … shouldn’t guide what
we do in the future.”
Szkodzinski called attention to
ways these initiatives could increase
diversity at Lawrence, by enabling
coaches to use more productive outof-
state recruiting tactics such as
going to college fairs at high schools.
Podair said, “I would say to people
who say we’re somehow demeaning
ourselves by doing this that a lot
of very good schools take the time to
go and visit on-campus.”
The second proposal would
enable teams at Lawrence to have
nontraditional seasons. Twenty
hours per week would be allocated
for a team to meet with coaches.
Presently, coaches cannot organize
their teams in the off-season.
Beloit College, Carroll University,
Grinnell College, Illinois College,
Knox College, Lake Forest College,
Monmouth College, Ripon College
and St. Norbert College accompany
Lawrence University in the Midwest
Conference. Currently, NESCAC and
UAA are the only two other NCAA
Division III conferences that operate
under the same restrictions as the
MWC.
Privatt, Szkodzinski and Tatro
will be attending the Midwest
Conference meeting Nov. 22 and 23
at Beloit College to vote. This vote
determines whether the proposals
will be presented to the faculties of
the MWC colleges and universities
for a full-faculty vote.
If two thirds of the attendees
at this meeting vote in favor of the
initiatives, the vote will be brought
back to Lawrence faculty members
winter term in a faculty meeting. The
final decision will be made on March
14 and 15, 2010. If these initiatives
pass, change would go into effect
immediately.
A second faculty forum took
place Wednesday, Nov. 11 to accommodate
faculty class schedules in
the hopes of greater attendance.
For those faculty members who
were unable to attend either date,
a Moodle page with an open forum
was created on behalf of the committee
to continue the discussion
beyond the faculty forums. This
Moodle page is open to all members
of the faculty.

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