Questioning ties to the NCAA

“A  Makeover for Pratt Field” (College Row, Spring 2012) describes the field as “a beacon of small-college athletics tradition and the third oldest NCAA football-playing site in the nation.” Hidden in that sentence is an important question for Amherst.

Today, the NCAA is a very different organization than it was when Pratt Field was first used. As many stories in the press (see Joe Nocera’s New York Times op-ed pieces and Taylor Branch’s long Atlantic article, among others) have shown, the NCAA has become the chosen tool of big-money athletic programs to police a fatally corrupt system. It no longer exists for the sake of the athletes. Thus, Amherst College should live up to its position as an institution that seeks to lead by examining its ties to the NCAA and forging a new path for its teams.

Amherst is one of about 440 Division III schools in the NCAA. The college “needs” the NCAA only for scheduling and tournament help. Therefore, a move to leave the NCAA with the other Division III schools need not harm the athletic programs at the college. A new organization, created by and for the Division III schools, could take on the duties of the NCAA without requiring that Amherst and others implicitly condone the actions of the NCAA and contribute to the NCAA’s continuing work to mistreat athletes.

If athletics are important but secondary at Amherst, then we should not have to put up with the NCAA. No. That’s not strong enough. We should not permit ourselves to be part of a corrupt system. Even if there were no possible alternative—a situation I do not think exists—Amherst has a responsibility to lead, to demonstrate that ethics matter. Amherst students should never have to say that their college has gone along to get along.

Harrison Eiteljorg II ’63
Haverford, Pa.

The café in Frost

The news that Frost Library has opened a café (“No shushing required,” College Row, Spring 2012) generated 23 comments on the Amherst College Alumni Facebook page. Here are five:

In my day we had to walk to Valentine for a snack. Uphill, both ways.

Peter T. Mittelholzer ’00

In the snow, too, without shoes.

William Chen ’07

Don’t even get me started on the old dining hall. Kids today don’t know from East vs. Annex. Black turtlenecks, secondhand smoke & unpublished plays over lunch... to say nothing of Stewart building impossible sculptures out of dining trays & dirty cups...

Jeremy Withers ’96

Graduated nearly 8 years ago and this is the first thing that had really made me want to go back and visit campus!

Nancy Kwang Canter ’04

...but before you are allowed to buy anything, you have to show your interdisciplinary research of the food item, its history, literary cites, sociological and anthropological dimensions, chemical composition, and biodiversity impact implications...

Ron Bashford ’88

R.I.P. Davis

When the Amherst College Alumni Facebook page asked for memories of the newly departed Davis Dormitory (“Sad but satisfying,” back cover, current issue), the request resulted in 47 comments. A sampling:

None for public viewing!

Matthew Davis ’88

Can I come Knock Stone down? I tried my best Junior Year!

John Frechette ’02

Tom Waits drank scotch there one night in 1976 or so after a performance at the Academy of Music in Northampton.

Richard White ’79

Wow, I wonder if Mr Waits ever had to go so far for a drink before or since.

Tom King ’88

Lived there with a bunch of rugby girls during fall 2005. Mostly good times were had by all. I’ll miss you, Davis!

Patrice Rankine ’06

I thought a “social dorm” could at least live long enough to enjoy Social Security.

Paul Nolan ’84

I had my first kiss in that common room.

Diana Cappiello ’05

It’s a little hard to wax nostalgic about the Social Dorms. They had a temporary, unadorned quality from “day one.” How much of an architectural improvement they were over the green wooden barracks that once adorned that area can still be debated.

John Powell ’74


Magazine wins gold

Amherst magazine is proud to announce that it has won a gold medal in the Best Articles of the Year category for its Winter 2011 profile, “Law & Order in Real Life,” by Rand Richards Cooper ’80. The medal is from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, which runs the national awards program for alumni magazines. The article is about longtime Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau ’41 (right, in his office).

Popularity contest

Every story in Amherst magazine is also available online at These were the five most-viewed pages on our site last quarter:

1. The In Memory homepage. Go here for extended In Memory pieces and to add your own tributes.

2. “Eating Their Research,” the Spring 2012 feature on an independent study course about the culture of tapas.

3. The Amherst Reads book club pages. Go here to find the book club’s featured book of the month and to search for Amherst authors.

4. The Winter 2012 sports feature on potential Major League draft picks Kevin Heller ’12 and Mike Samela ’12. (Heller has since been drafted by the Boston Red Sox; his name was called in the 40th and final round. Samela has also signed a professional contract, with the Worcester Tornadoes of the minor league Canadian American Association of Professional Baseball.)  

5. Class notes

Editor’s note: We regret that Sarah Markgraf ’84 felt deeply hurt by a letter in the Spring 2012 Amherst magazine. The Letters section welcomes all perspectives, but our aim is to foster healthy debate, not ill will.

We welcome letters from our readers.

Send them to:

Amherst Magazine
Office of Public Affairs
P.O. Box 5000
Amherst, MA 01002

Or email them to

Photo by Gregory Heisler