Harry Sheehy & the Funding of Dartmouth Athletics

Dartmouth Now, the College’s PR news site, has a quite enjoyable interview posted with Harry Sheehy, Dartmouth’s new athletic director (although not quite as in-depth as the Review‘s own October interview with Sheehy, conducted by Harry Greenstone). 

Sheehy’s public utterances thus far have steered clear of specific plans or initiatives, and have focused mainly on his general enthusiasm for Dartmouth and dissatisfaction with our current athletics program, a theme he reiterates in this interview, noting that he wants to fashion a “culture of success” among Dartmouth’s sports teams. 

But here he discussed one concrete plan for improving the calibre of Dartmouth’s teams: raising funds for the permanent endowment of more coaching positions. 

We have a couple of fundraising initiatives. One is to endow coaching positions. We have three endowed coaching positions—football, men’s track, and women’s track, plus our director of strength and conditioning. This compares to 23 for Cornell, 19 for Yale, 11 for Harvard, 9 for Brown, and 4 for Columbia. Penn and Princeton are also up there in the same range as Brown. Endowing a position frees up money to do other things, which is really important. We’re also trying to increase our annual giving, which is crucial to teams’ operating budgets and allows student-athletes to do the things that competing institutions are doing.

This is a very good idea, and one should hope that the College’s donors are able to follow through with such an initiative. During the most recent round of budget cuts, fears ran high among many of Dartmouth’s coaches that their own programs would be axed (a la Josie Harper’s decision to disband the swimming and diving team in 2002). That kind of job insecurity can’t make Dartmouth a very attractive institution for prospective coaches. Creating more funding stability for our various programs is undoubtedly an important step forward for Dartmouth athletics. 

And, while Sheehy doesn’t deserve any credit for it, the prospects of a new era in Dartmouth athletics just received a huge boost with Nick Schwieger’s selection as Ivy League Player of the Year.

Charles S. Dameron