President M. Lee Pelton further detailed the newly formed Athletics Working Group, established in late April, in an email sent to the Emerson community this summer.
The email listed the fourteen members named to the group, which includes alumni, faculty, and current students. The group will work to assess various aspects of the Emerson Athletics Department, Pelton said. The committee, according to Pelton’s email, will focus not only on Emerson athletics, but also on intercollegiate athletics and fitness programs.
The group will be chaired by Dean of Students Ronald Ludman. It was established after Pelton met with team captains in late March to address concerns about the Athletics Department.
Pelton’s meeting was spurred by a petition created by former Emerson basketball player Kabir Moss calling for the resignation of former Athletic Director Kristen Parnell. Parnell, who served the position since 2007, announced her resignation on May 17. Associate Director of Athletics Stanford Nance was named the department’s director in the interim. Pelton’s email also named Nance as a member of the working group.
The formation of the Athletics Working Group came in conjunction with the announcement that Emerson will switch athletic conferences, effective at the start of the 2013-14 academic year. The school will leave the Great Northeast Athletic Conference and join the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference.
Geoff Lopes, class of 2012, former captain of the Emerson men’s baseball team, is one of three alumni who will be working as part of the group. He was also one of the student-athletes who met with Pelton.
“There is a dream-team type scenario with the people involved,” Lopes said. “In terms of faculty, they really show that they’re putting an initiative in athletics right now....The students are people you look up to if you are in the department. They understand success on the field and in the classroom.”
Senior Kara Patano, a communications studies major, was recommended to Ludman by Nance to be part of the group. She also said that the variety of group members will be beneficial.
“With the amount of people in this group,” Patano said, “we can bounce ideas off each other and start having a more prominent athletic department.”
Ludman said that the group will discuss a broad range of issues and topics concerning Emerson athletics.
“The AWG [sic] will begin to discuss the role of EC athletics and develop a philosophy statement, review our intercollegiate, intramural and fitness programs with respect to facilities and operational needs, and assess intercollegiate recruitment and enrollment strategies,” Ludman said in an email to the Beacon.
Lopes said he hopes to focus on through his involvement in the group is a balance between academics and athletics for student-athletes.
“We don’t really have help when picking classes,” Lopes said. “When it comes down to failing a class or playing a game that could make or break your season, you’re obviously going to have to choose the class, because that’s what you’re going to school for. I hope to create better balance on the field and in the classroom so that we can better compete with the other teams in our league.”
Patano said she hopes to use her perspective as a student-athlete to help improve the Athletics Department, with one of her main focuses being greater involvement from the student body.
“A lot of people don’t think they have a voice,” Patano said. “People don’t even know we have athletics. We don’t have to be an athletics school. We’re a different type of school—that’s what makes us unique. I want to speak out as much as possible.”
Ludman said the group’s first official meeting will take place Sept. 28.
Pelton said in a previous interview with the Beacon that he expects the group to report its findings by Feb. 1, 2013.
Both Lopes and Patano said they are looking to better the experiences of the students who are committed to Emerson sports.
“We want to put the focus back on student-athletes and see how we can make it better for them,” Lopes said. “I had a great experience in my four years. If I could help somebody else have the same type of experience that I had, or even better, then that’s the goal.”