An extraordinary efforts is taking place right now to fight the proposed elimination of the Hartwick Women's Water Polo program. One of the premiere polo programs in the East, on Wednesday the team was handed what amounts to a death sentence by a trio of Hartwick administrators—President Margaret Drugovich, Board of Trustees Chair Francis Landrey and Student Affair Committee Chair David Long—who announced that the program will cease to exist at the conclusion of this season.
Apparently, NO polo fan is accepting this threat; there are a number of efforts afoot to counter President Drugovich's decision:
- A Change.org petition which in two days already has more than 8,000 signatures. To sign the petition to save Hartwick Water Polo, please click here;
- Comments from leading polo coaches and long-time supporters of the sport. One interesting commentator is Todd Clapper, head coach for the Arizona State University women's team; his comments are below;
- An interview in Swimming World with Hartwick Head Coach Alan Huckins who is determined to see through a season that has his Hawks flying high at 12-2 (#13 in the country) and features, among others, Zsofia Polak and Lena Kotanchyan, two of the best players in the East.
As Coach Huckins points out, this is all about dollars and cents. What doesn't add up is—in an age where #MeToo points out how inequalities between men and women are (badly) negotiated—why a female university president would agree to shut down a sport that is all about empowering female athletes.
By Todd Clapper, Arizona State University
I understand the reasoning behind these decisions. It is easy when you look at a budget and say, “If we got rid of these sports, look at how much we would save.” Then, they work backwards to justify the budget cut (shallow end of the pool, not as competitive in soccer).
It's obvious that these decisions don’t take into account the current student-athletes and coaches, in addition to, all of the ones that have come before who have built these programs. What is lost in this decision is the harm that it will do to the college. Right now, Hartwick lists its enrollment at about 1,200 students and boasts that 3% are international from 20 different countries. That is about 36 international students. 23 of these are on the soccer and water polo teams. While 3% is not a huge figure, it would be 1% without these teams, which is not even worth a mention.
They have a student body that is 59% female, but chose to keep the men’s sport and cut the women’s sport. Interesting since this president was the first to hire someone to monitor Title IX on campus. Outside of these specifics, there are some intangibles. The president got her Master’s Degree from Brown, which is a university that I spent 5 1/2 years at. Brown was unlike Princeton and Harvard because it valued a diverse student body. Not just checking boxes of where they are from and their ethnicity, but actually finding unique individuals. Brown understands how this makes their university stronger and raises the academic experience. BTW, ASU’s Barrett Honors College has the same philosophy and is enormously successful.
I hope that the trustees look at this decision from more angles and have the leadership to alter their decision and continue to sponsor these teams, as they have been. If they don’t, in a couple of short years, they will be finding ways (and spending money to do so) to get more applicants from out of state and out of the country. They are only creating a problem that they will have to solve later. Soccer and Water Polo should be pride points for Hartwick College. They are very successful based on the size and location of the college. These programs are why high school students outside of NY even know about Hartwick College. Cutting these programs will have a long-lasting isolation effect on the college.