Contact: Doug Stone or Donna Nicholson or November 27, 2001
Andy Johnson FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MACALESTER COLLEGE TO CONTINUE ITS FOOTBALL PROGRAM; WILL PLAY AN INDEPENDENT SCHEDULE
St. Paul, Minn.-Macalester College will play its 109th football season next fall, but as an independent, not within the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, President Michael S. McPherson announced today an at all-campus meeting.
"We are talking about the rebirth of football at Macalester," he said in a statement he presented to the campus community. "Success in this new effort is going to require strong support from our student body, who favor continuing football by a factor of better than 2-to-1, and from our alumni, who have been firm and vocal in their commitment to support Macalester football."
McPherson said that the school and football program will be best served by playing an independent schedule. He said Macalester would probably continue to play traditional MIAC rivals Carleton, Hamline and St. Olaf. He said other schools have expressed strong interest in playing Macalester including Lawrence University, Colorado College, Grinnell, Beloit and the University of Chicago.
All other Macalester varsity men's and women's teams will continue to play an MIAC schedule.
McPherson reached his decision today after reviewing the report of a 12-member faculty, staff, student and alumni committee that studied the football issue and the program's future. The committee did not make any specific recommendation. The president appointed the committee after expressing concerns about Macalester's teams being outnumbered and overmatched against other MIAC schools.
"The big question for our community then is: can we run a successful football program that will advance Macalester's larger educational values? You bet we can," McPherson said.
McPherson said that Macalester "needs a more robust football program, but we
also need to provide a more level playing field for our players. As our football committee has said, it is hard to see how we could achieve real competitive balance in a conference that allows schools to have teams with more than 100 players and that at this point lacks any mechanism for enforcing the NCAA rules against awarding aid on the basis of athletic promise."
He said he was encouraged by reform efforts among liberal arts colleges in general and noted that MIAC presidents will begin a series of annual meetings on Dec. 12 at Macalester focused on institutional control of athletic programs and possible reform agendas. McPherson noted that many Division III presidents have been concerned about "a kind of drift among Division III colleges toward what might be called Division I values---more specialization of athletes, longer seasons, more off-season practice, greater emphasis on postseason competition, and favorable admissions and financial aid practices for athletes."
McPherson said Macalester could possibly resume an MIAC schedule within the next five years.
As part of his report, McPherson named Athletic Director Irv Cross, a former NFL and college football star, as senior adviser to the football program to assist with recruiting, strengthening players' skills, and with arranging special training opportunities for coaches. He will work closely with Head Football Coach Dennis Czech, a Macalester alumnus.
"I'm pleased that the president decided that football should continue at Macalester," Cross said. "Macalester has a long history of competing in football and now we have an opportunity for a fresh start and to have a program that our students will continue to enjoy for years to come."
McPherson concluded his statement by praising the members of this year's football team. "In making your case for the football program with the community and with the board, you conducted yourselves with intelligence and with dignity and throughout this difficult time you treated me with respect. And in the end, your conduct-as excellent Macalester students and outstanding young men-provided the best argument for Macalester football."
Macalester is a private liberal arts college with a full-time enrollment of 1,787 students. Macalester is nationally recognized for its long-standing commitment to academic excellence, internationalism, diversity and service to society.
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