Save the Saint Anselm College Ice Hockey Program and remove the inequity in Saint Anselm College Athletics
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We, the alumni and family of the hawk hockey program, would like a full evaluation of the Saint Anselm College athletic program because it fails to promotes a fair athletic environment for all of its student athletes. Until this inequity is addressed and resolved, we will not support or give back by way of donation to the college.
The college, more specifically the athletic department, has failed to provide transparency on how it currently operates a three-tier athletic aid strategy. Details and history as to why this three-tier athletic aid strategy creates inequity within Saint Anselm Athletics is provided below.
One sport (basketball) is funded to the NCAA Division 2 limit, offering 10 full non-need based scholarships. They are awarded full tuition and room and board.
Nine sports (football, soccer, volleyball, field hockey, lacrosse, baseball, softball, tennis, cross country) are funded as a traditional Division 2 college (partial scholarships) and not to the NCAA limit. The maximum scholarship available for these athletes is full tuition but not room and board. The college makes it even more confusing by blending merit and need based financial aid with non-need based athletic aid/scholarships. Merit and need based financial aid is made available to all students at Saint Anselm College that qualify, including athletes. If an athlete receives athletic, merit and need based financial aid and then decides to no longer participate in their sport then they keep their merit and financial aid but they lose their athletic aid.
Three sports (ice hockey, skiing, and golf) are funded as Division 3 (no athletic aid).
Full Scholarships for Men's Sports # of Athletes / # of Full Athletic Scholarships Basketball 14 / 10 Football 103 / 14 Soccer 26 / 1 Lacrosse 36 / 1 Baseball 34 / 1 Tennis 11 / 0.50 Cross Country 12 / 0.25 Ice Hockey 29 / 0 Skiing 11 / 0 Golf 11 / 0
Full Scholarships for Women's Sports # of Athletes / # of Full Athletic Scholarships Basketball 14 / 10 Soccer 27 / 4 Volleyball 14 / 4 Field Hockey 23 / 4 Lacrosse 22 / 4 Softball 12 / 4 Tennis 12 / 1.50 Cross Country 12 / 0.75 Ice Hockey 25 / 0 Skiing 9 / 0
For further clarification on how the college got to this point we need to look back to 1998. In 1998, the NCAA decided to further stratify and formalize their divisions into a Division 1 (full scholarship), Division 2 (partial scholarship) and Division 3 (non-scholarship) model. Saint Anselm College (St. A's), as a result of awarding full non-need based scholarships only to their basketball teams (10 scholarships men and 10 women) was classified by the NCAA as a Division 2 institution. St. A's hockey has been in a state of limbo ever since (1998).
This situation has had a profound impact on the Saint Anselm hockey programs due to the fact that the vast majority of hockey programs within the NCAA fall into either Division 1 or Division 3. What this meant was that any games played against Division 3 colleges would not count for league or post season purposes. A direct result was that many Division 3 colleges would not continue to play us in most sports. However, the hockey program(s) was allowed to continue as members of the ECAC East league(s) and schedule Division 3 teams, but would NOT be allowed to compete for league or post season championships.
Although this situation made building a competitive schedule difficult for the hockey programs, the membership in ECAC East leagues continued until 2010 when St. Anselm College, decided to rename some Financial Aid awards as "scholarships". The rationale and explanation for this decision was never fully communicated (important to note that basketball was the only sport that awarded full or any athletic scholarships up to this point). As a direct result, the ECAC East Hockey leagues put St. A's hockey on "watch", citing the expansion of scholarships as a reason to reexamine our league membership status. The leagues also told Saint Anselm College that unless they showed positive movement towards Division 3 in all sports there was a good chance the hockey programs would not be invited to continue as members of the league.
In 2015, Saint Anselm College started the exploratory stages of reclassifying the entire athletic program to Division 3 and announced that they would not be awarding non-need based scholarships. This seemed to satisfy the ECAC East until May 23, 2016 when the new Athletic Director (He started on 1/10/2016) announced that the college would reinstitute scholarships for the 2017-2018 season. As expected, at the June 4, 2016 NEHC (formerly ECAC East) League meeting, St. A's was informed that the men's and women's hockey teams would not be allowed to continue as members of the NEHC (formerly ECAC East) League after the 2016-2017 season.
Saint Anselm College has only had 3 teams (Women's Ice Hockey, Men's Basketball and Men's Ice Hockey) with a winning record over the last 10 years. Only one sport, basketball, receives preferential treatment in regards to financial resources while nine sports are at a competitive disadvantage every time a game/match starts. The other three sports are basically an afterthought. This three-tier athletic aid strategy has led to a situation that creates inequity across all of Saint Anselm Athletics.
To be clear, this inequitable athletic aid situation was not caused by any athlete that is currently receiving or has received athletic (not merit or financial) aid. These athletes are just playing by the rules as dictated by the College and the Athletic Department and no hard feelings are directed towards them, the programs, or their coaches. Rather the issue remains one of fairness and our desire to have the College treat all athletes, regardless of sport, fairly and equitably as it relates to financial resources controlled by the College. The best path forward to achieving this end seems to be the renewed commitment from Saint Anselm College and Saint Anselm Athletics to reclassify the entire athletic program to Division 3.
For the 2017-2018 season, the hockey programs are stuck with the worst schedules in the history of Saint Anselm Hockey from a competitive, academic or prestige standpoint. The college is underestimating the negative impact this schedule will have on recruiting and will completely wipe out the momentum Thomas F. Sullivan Arena (one of the nicest facilities in New England at the Division 3 level) has generated for both programs.
The system that currently exists is deliberately and patently unfair and institutionally accepted and protected. We have been patient for too long (19 years) in waiting for Saint Anselm College, the Board, the President and the Abbot to do their job and fix this situation. We all want Saint Anselm to get better as a college but the status quo does not make us better. As a group, we cannot make the decision for the college but we can withhold financial support and as long as this system remains in place we cannot and will not support the college.
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