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Crew Cuts

I read with interest the article on women’s crew and the NCAA [“Women’s Crew Protests NCAA Crew Changes,” March 23]. When I was at MIT, as a rower in the heavyweight men’s crew, we always hoped that rowing (which is far older as an intercollegiate sport than most, and does not fit the model of the big-money sports) would never be in the NCAA, because their one-size-fits-all system would hurt rowing at smaller schools.

Here in Washington State, the University of Washington, an NCAA Division I athletic powerhouse which generates enormous revenues from football and basketball, somehow could not afford to keep lightweight men’s rowing (despite the dominance of the UW heavyweight crew on the national level over many decades, and the very substantial donations of money from rowing alumni). They have also cancelled wrestling, and almost cancelled swimming, which casts MIT’s commitment to intercollegiate athletics in a very positive light by comparison.

It’s a shame to see that we appear to have been right, based on the Division III practice limits. A 21-week season is not long enough to teach novices to row effectively or to train a varsity crew.

Rowing was one of the best parts of my time at MIT, and I hope the women succeed in their petition to Division I status so they can keep up the terrific program they have built over the last twenty years.

Dave Trop ’83