Jeff Graham Letter to the Editor
First, a disclaimer: I do not know Zach Noble or Evan Hrobak and do not have a personal vendetta against them or The Review. This article is intended to express the significance of the SVC football program in many student-athletes’ lives. Second, a public service announcement: I am unaware of the course of action Zach pursued in regards to the circumstances he faced during his freshman year, but I would like to make this clear: If any student ever feels threatened by another student, they should report the incident to campus authorities. The football team is not above the campus judicial system (reference Zach’s editorial regarding the quartet of large, brutish football players ousted in one semester). Third, some logic: In regards to the football program attracting “droves of under-qualified, under-prepared freshmen”, it is logical that most freshmen, athletes and non-athletes alike, are at least somewhat under-prepared for college, as they have never attended college. The coaches are in charge of recruiting players, not of admissions. Therefore, the under-qualified freshmen cannot be blamed on the football program. Anyone with these views ought to inquire of the Admissions Department to determine if they are making “exceptions” for football players. As a freshman, I was an under-prepared and possibly under-qualified student, similar to the students Zach and Evan discussed. However, neither discussed that some of the under-prepared, under-qualified freshmen use the opportunity as a pathway to a better life for their families, as I did. SVC didn’t waste their time or money on this under-prepared, under-qualified freshman. Fourth, a few facts: I did a little fact finding of my own regarding the retention and graduation rates of the Class of 2011. I compiled my own data, using the same sources as Zach, as well as collegeboard.org. Below are my findings. •In the fall of 2007, 47 freshmen were listed on the football roster, however, in 2008, 29 of those players were still playing, a retention rate of 61.7%. •Using the retention rate of 84.2% from Zach’s article as a benchmark, we fell well below this mark. •33 of these 47 players graduated from SVC within 5 years, a graduation rate of 70.2%. •According to collegeboard.org, 72.0% of SVC students graduate within six years. Although we were one player short of this mark, I call that a success due to the opportunity costs related to an extra year of school. •26 of the 29 football players who played at least two years graduated with a degree from SVC, a graduation rate of 89.7%. Approximately 85.5% of students graduate from SVC within six years, if they return for their sophomore year. I agree with Zach in that the “right reasons” to be in school are to “learn and earn a degree”. The facts presented above indicate that the football program not only attracts qualified individuals, but also effectively supplements the resources of the College to ensure those who remain with the program reach the ultimate goal of earning a degree. Fifth, in regards to the coaches: The coaching staff did more than prepare us for next week’s game; they prepared us for the REAL world. Whether it was Coach Bell stressing mental toughness in the weight room, or Coach Bernie yelling to “keep your feet moving”, they helped instill a second-to-none work ethic and attitude in us. You don’t only “keep your feet moving” in football, but in life as well. Seventh, response to the leadership grants claim: If these claims were true, the athletic department would be violating rule 15.01.3 of the NCAA Division III Manual. Sue Hozak does a wonderful job ensuring that SVC is in compliance with NCAA regulations. Further, SVC is not under NCAA investigation; therefore, I refute this claim. Eighth, player testimonials: I was curious whether the opinions of the current and former players referenced in Zach’s editorial held true for the players who walked across the field to give their mom a rose, and their dad a hat on Senior Day, most after four years of hard work and dedication. I asked several former players a simple question: “What did SVC football mean to you, and what did it teach you?” The former players indicated that the program teaches them time management skills, self-discipline, self-motivation, perseverance, as well as reinforces the work-ethic that their parents instilled in them. These attributes allowed these players to make a smooth transition in to the workforce. The program meant more to these players than just playing a 60 minute game on Saturday afternoon. Many students may believe that “the football team is a waste of time and money” and believe the College should “end the SVC football experiment”. I challenge anyone with these views of the football program to reevaluate their position after reading this letter.