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Local Sports

February 6, 2008

Hartwick needs to come clean on D-I drop

On Page 1 of a media release sent by Hartwick College to this newspaper Monday, the second paragraph started: "Over the past five years the college's endowment has grown from $50 million to $75 million and enrollment has increased from 1,397 to 1,537."

In a separate release, the college had a question-and-answer session with itself over the possibility of dropping the men's soccer program from Division I to Division III.

The release said Hartwick would save about $550,000 annually if it stopped awarding scholarships for men's soccer and women's water polo.

Let's take a closer look at the most important numbers listed above.

$75,000,000.

$550,000.

To put those numbers into terms we can understand, say you hit a jackpot on a Vegas slot machine and win $75,000. Would you be all that upset if you lost a roulette bet for $550 on the way out?

So, if money isn't the reason Hartwick wants to downgrade the sport that gave the school its most memorable moment _ a 1977 Division I national championship _ what is?

Jim Lennox, who coached the Hawks _ then known as the Warriors _ to that national championship and four other trips to the national semifinals, said competition seems to be the obvious reason.

"The way I was treated by Hartwick College leaves me empty in a way," he said Tuesday night. "I'm at a loss for words. They fired me (in 2003) because they wanted 1977 again (Hartwick President Richard P. Miller said via e-mail Wednesday the school had no comment on Lennox's departure and that the soccer team's on-field performance had nothing to do with the decision).

"The demographics of Division I soccer have changed," Lennox continued. "It's now geared toward the major conferences. There's no way we are going to do what we did in the 1970s and 1980s. That will never be recaptured. Division I men's soccer has advanced and because of that progress and growth of the game, the major conferences have taken to soccer and the schools in the mid- to lower-conferences have been left behind."

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