Recruiting incidents a concern for McDaniel

Two recent occurences lead to invesigations, discussions of recruitment policies

The recent incidents involving potential athletic recruits on campus have led to discussions about the value of overnight visitations for prospective students.

By Geoff Peckham, News Co-Editor

As was reported in the last issue of the Free Press, on October 19 a wrestling recruit was found intoxicated in North Village after attending an off-campus party and required medical assistance. On October 27, two men’s lacrosse recruits were found with alcohol by campus safety in Rouzer Hall. Neither wrestling coach Davey Blake nor men’s Lacrosse coach Matt Hatton were available for comment.

Athletic Director Jamie Smith said the situation is being monitored, and Dean of Student Affairs Beth Gerl asserted that the Athletic Department was taking these incidents “very seriously.” The parents of the wrestling recruit are reportedly very angry, and have discussed that with Coach Blake.

“This should not be happening,” Gerl said. She is confident that they are isolated incidents, but that she would be meeting with Smith and Dean of Admissions Florence Hines to evaluate the expectations that go along with the overnight visitations. She said that both incidents were still being investigated and that the “judicial process is being adhered to.” She said that there could potentially be hearings before the Honor and Conduct Board for the students who were in charge of the prospects.

Dr. Ethan Seidel, vice president of Administration and Finance, said that over the decades he’s been with the college incidents like these have happened, not just with athletic recruits but with prospective students in general. He doesn’t see a trend but doesn’t believe there needs to be one to review McDaniel’s recruitment policies. He said that there had even been discussions prior to both incidents involving a potential change to those policies.

The Office of Admissions does not do overnight visitations anymore, but the Athletic Department does, as well as other organizations on campus. Potential student-athletes must sign a form before their weekend saying they will not use any drugs or alcohol, will not violate criminal law, will not attend any activity that could promote bad behavior, and that they will not participate in any physical or verbal abuse while on campus.

Field hockey coach Melissa Miranda said that the prospects must be accompanied at all times by a current student and are not allowed to go to any off-campus parties. She added that there was a certain protocol coaches followed with these visits, but that coaches may have a few of their own personal guidelines to be followed, as well. She stressed that it was up to those current students escorting the recruits to maintain integrity. She has observed maturity issues among a few male athletes, but that overall many student hosts do a great job with the recruits. She emphasized that “[students] do need to come overnight.”

Seidel agrees, but sees the potential downside as well.

“It’s an old dilemma. You want the prospective students to experience various aspects of student life, but you have to weigh it against the pitfalls. You don’t want to put them in a situation that exposes them to certain things.” He said it was a cost-benefit analysis, and that McDaniel should now be asking “are there better ways?”

Seidel said there was no timetable for when the recruitment policies would be formally evaluated, but that it would most likely be within this academic year. While it has not been formally suggested, he believes getting rid of the overnight visits would be a consideration.

That would be bad news for many current and future students in the eyes of some.

“If it were not for overnight stays, I would not be here. Staying on campus for two nights convinced me to come here,” one anonymous student-athlete said. “The stays offer one-on-one time with students, without the administration in the shadows, and that’s how you get to see what life is really like.”

The Administration is still investigating, and will evaluate all options. But as Dean Gerl pointed out, “the bottom line is what happened cannot happen again.”