From the Hillsdale Collegian
By Sarah Ishak
In a David versus Goliath scenario, the private college members of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference have come forward and objected to the direction the GLIAC is taking. The smaller private schools, with Hillsdale College, Ashland University and University of Findlay leading the way, started discussions in mid-December to address their objections to the GLIAC and to discuss the possibility of leaving the conference.
Hillsdale College Athletic Director Dr. Mike Kovalchik explained in January the reasons behind the discussions were travel and missed class time for the student athletes as well as budgeting and financial aid equity. The problem originated when the GLIAC considered incorporating schools from the North Central Conference, which is splitting. Kovalchik said this particular expansion would increase travel time and expenses beyond the resources of the private schools.
President Larry Arnn said he was instrumental in reviving this discussion, which has been brought up by private schools in the past. He added that his goal is not to break up the conference.
“My wish [is] to do anything I can to reduce travel time,” he said. “Students are busy, and the time they spend traveling is lost time.”
Increased travel is also cutting into the time athletes spend in class and on homework. Both Arnn and Kovalchik stressed the importance that Hillsdale places on graduating student athletes and keeping athletes on par with the school’s academic philosophy, especially the core requirements.
There were also financial concerns. The private schools were facing difficulties competing with the public schools in tuition and financial aid packages for athletes.
“They [the public schools] can cover more people with the same amount of scholarships,” Kovalchik said.
All but one of the seven private schools in the GLIAC met Monday to discuss a proposal submitted by the six public schools in the GLIAC. The proposal recommended restructuring the GLIAC into new north and south divisions. The north division would include the public schools, while the private schools would belong to the south division. The schools would not be required to compete in intra-division contests, but would have the option available to them.
At the end of the season, the champions from each division would play each other to decide an overall conference champion. Arnn said if the proposal is approved this spring, it would take effect in 2009.
Both Arnn and Kovalchik said the decision does not reflect on the competitive nature of the private schools. Athletic standards will not be lowered, but the schools will finally be able to compete “like against like.”
“We believe strongly that athletics is important to higher education,” Arnn said. “And because it’s integral, that means it can’t be separated from all the larger purposes of the college. This is a move to make that integration better.”