A new vision for sports?

Review ‘a rather poor evaluation instrument’

Anton Oentoro of the fencing team scores a point Oct. 20 in the Queen’s Invitational. The review ranked fencing 23rd.
Anton Oentoro of the fencing team scores a point Oct. 20 in the Queen’s Invitational. The review ranked fencing 23rd.
Photo: 
Sam Pedlow of the men’s volleyball team goes for a kill Saturday night. The team was ranked first in the review.
Sam Pedlow of the men’s volleyball team goes for a kill Saturday night. The team was ranked first in the review.
Photo: 
The figure-skating team competes in the Queen’s Invitational on Nov. 14 2006. They tied for 14th in the review’s rankings.
The figure-skating team competes in the Queen’s Invitational on Nov. 14 2006. They tied for 14th in the review’s rankings.
Credit: 
Journal File Photo

Former Dean of Student Affairs Bob Crawford said he’s “very pleased” with Principal Karen Hitchcock’s response to the athletics review he co-authored and released last June.

“When you think of the dimension of possible responses, from rejecting [the review] to endorsing it, we’re quite happy with the result,” he said. “Overwhelmingly, the majority of the recommendations were endorsed, which was very positive.”

In her response, Hitchcock recommends re-evaluating interuniversity teams in two years before cutting any, and further exploring the possibility of raising athletic fees.

Crawford said he isn’t bothered by the delay.

He preferred Hitchcock’s

solution of offering academic advisors for athletes to the initial vision he and co-author Janice Deakin proposed of early course pre-registration for athletes, he said.

He’s finished his formal involvement with the process, but sees a bright future for Queen’s Athletics, he said.

“I’ve been very excited about Queen’s Athletics and Recreation and the direction it’s going,” Crawford said.

Women’s basketball coach Dave Wilson, whose team was ranked third in the review, said he’s happy with the principal’s response.

“I’m confident the direction has been given that we need the ability to be competitive.”

Wilson said he was a bit disappointed the process took so long, but isn’t surprised since Queen’s athletics hasn’t changed dramatically since the 1970 Milliken Report, which gave the department its current emphasis on breadth.

“I’ve been at Queen’s far too long to think anything’s going to move,” he said.

Wilson said he was happy the principal supported the proposal of funding as many full-time coaches as possible. Queen’s has no full-time coaches. Instead, the athletics department employs several coaches, including Wilson, in dual capacities.

“If we’re going to try to compete with the rest of the conference, it is a full-time job and split duties makes it really difficult,” Wilson said.

Fencing coach Hugh Munby said he’s pleased the review’s criteria for evaluating interuniversity teams will be revised.

“I think many of the concerns that were raised … have been addressed, particularly problems in the device used to assess the sports, which I think was a rather poor evaluation instrument,” he said.

The review ranked fencing 23rd.

He said the delay in Hitchcock’s release in the report affected him as a coach, but not his team.

“I don’t think it was really hanging over the team because they were just going to get on with it anyway. But I found it frustrating,” he said.

“I think [the review process] proved to be a more complex issue than anyone anticipated. Funding is relatively scarce at the University anyway. … I think the debate will continue.”

Men’s volleyball coach Brenda Willis said in an e-mail she was also happy with the response.

The team was ranked first overall in the review, which could change when teams are re-evaluated next year. Willis said she isn’t concerned.

“While there is some honour and recognition in being ranked number one, I never felt that put us ahead or above anyone else that was in the group of sports considered most viable and important at Queen’s,” she wrote. “Even with a massaging of the criteria, I would expect that we will be fine.”

Willis said she isn’t disappointed that changes in teams’ status can’t happen over the next year, as she thinks there’s plenty of room within Hitchcock’s recommendations to start the fund reallocation process.

“I believe the report says that the status of teams shall remain for one more year, but I don’t take that to mean status quo,” she said. “I think there may well be shifting levels of support sooner than later.”

Willis said she’s happy the athletics department will make funding decisions over the next year.

“The fact that the principal turned that process back to the athletic director and department is encouraging,” she said. “Those people are the experts, and if they are going to have responsibility for implementing and defending the decisions, I think it is important that they be allowed to make the decisions.”

Figure skating captain Casey Baldovin, whose team was ranked 14th in the review, said the team’s relieved they will maintain varsity status for at least two more years.

“It takes a little bit of pressure off of us,” she said. “It’ s kind of nice not to have that pressure that we have to win OUAs to have a team next year.”

Sailing team president Seth Whitmore, whose team was ranked 24th, lobbied for early pre-registration for student athletes. He said he’s disappointed the principal recommended against it.

“She really ignored an important issue for a lot of teams. That’s something that costs very little to administer and it allows athletes to make practice,” he said.

Whitmore said he’s happy with the two-year grace period teams will receive, but wanted a more specific response on the review.

“Everything about it was vague and non-committal,” he said. “She said we need to review the criteria, but what does that mean?”

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.