McDaniel football: A program about more than wins and losses

2018 McDaniel Football Team. (Photo courtesy of Luke Stillson).2018 McDaniel Football Team. (Photo courtesy of Luke Stillson).

We are writing this letter from two different perspectives: as a professor of art history for 18 years and as the faculty mentor to the football team for the past two, and as a senior running back/special teams player and Student Athletic Advisory Committee President. From our different roles and perspectives, we would like to respond to the article “If academic programs are under review, put athletic programs under review, too.” The article appeared in the online version of the Free Press on Nov. 1, 2018. We would specifically like to address some inaccuracies that are stated by the author.

First, there are no scholarships given for football in our division, which is NCAA Division III. That would be a violation of the rules and is true for all sports at the college. In the recruiting process, there are guidelines about what coaches can discuss with admissions personnel and what they may not. Coaches are not allowed to discuss financial aid with current or recruited students. Thus, there are not “undisclosed amounts of scholarships” given for football – or for any other sport at the institution – because there are no scholarships given for sports. The football coaches recruit hundreds of students before bringing the 50 to 55 students per year who join our incoming class. Take that away, as a tuition-dependent institution, and we potentially do not make the budget for the incoming class.

Second, the stadium was donated to the institution through private funds by an alumnus (and others) who felt compelled to have better facilities for our own players but also for visiting teams. It is a welcome change for visitors to our campus in the Centennial Conference.

Third, the comparison to Hofstra University is immaterial. Hofstra is an NCAA Division I school. The point of NCAA Division III athletic programs is to enhance the college experience for athletes, not create revenue. The two divisions are like apples and oranges; they are not comparable.

The tenor of the Nov. 1 opinion piece seemed to indicate that investment should lead to wins. If there are no wins, the article implies, there is no value equal to the investments made. This is false. Football teaches much more than what comes with a notch in the win column. As the mentor I have spent time with the team at their summer camp, on the practice field, and at away and home games. From my observations, I can say that their comradeship, brotherhood, and life lessons outmatch their losses any day. To take away such a large part of a student’s identity would be wrong and against NCAA Division III principles about the student athlete.

From a player’s perspective, football is more than the wins and losses; it is about the brotherhood that is made. It is about creating a bond for life with coaches and fellow teammates that will be there for you until the end of time. The connections forged with the coaches become life-long relationships, as they are preparing us not just for wins on the field, but most importantly, to become productive members of society. While that is not written directly in their job description, that is what being a coach is all about.

Finally, we wonder how many people know each student in the picture that accompanied the article? They are not “just players” to us. For those that do not know, they are, from left to right: Bamasa Bailor ‘18, John Linnehan ‘18, Vince Gorgone ‘18, Mike Martucci ‘19, Paul Flagg ‘19, and Jared Staub ‘19.

The issues surrounding our values and our very nature as a college are being considered carefully by the faculty and by the administration and, ultimately, by the Board of Trustees. And these will certainly be difficult decisions. But in our estimation, the Green Terror football team embodies all of the qualities that we say we want in our student body and our alumni. We are proud to be a part of this team.

Sincerely,

Dr. Gretchen K. McKay
Professor of Art History
Faculty Mentor to the Football Team

Dustin Miller, ‘19
Communication Major
Member of McDaniel College Football Team
Student Athlete Advisory Committee President

Editor’s note: opinions expressed in the Commentary section do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Free Press nor McDaniel College and are solely representative of their respective authors. All readers are encouraged to submit their own response to any article.