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Examination of Athletics Programs Takes First Steps

By Rebecca Dann

Last April, the Board of Trustees approved Dean of Students Hank Toutain and President S. Georgia Nugents proposed study of athletics at Kenyon. Since its approval, Toutain, Nugent and Robin Goodstein, advisor to the President, have established a committee of trustees, faculty members, staff members, students, alumni and parents to investigate all aspects of the athletic program.

Former congressman Zack Space 83 will chair the committee, whose objective is to determine if Kenyons athletic program aligns with the mission of the College, according to Goodstein.

Were examining this co-curricular initiative, athletics, to assess how it can best serve Kenyons overall educational mission, Goodstein said. The committee will research varsity sports, club sports, intramural sports, fitness and recreational athletics as part of the study. Kenyon employs 60 full and part-time coaches across 20 varsity teams. More than 25 percent of the student body plays for at least one of them. Although the study is still in its early stages, members have outlined key questions for the project. When we think about athletics, Toutain said, what are our goals as an institution for athletics? What does it mean to be successful? How do we measure success? Is it only by box score? I dont think so. My own perspective is that much of it has to be about the experience of the student athlete. How do you gauge the success of that? I think thats by and large what this long conversation and study and review are all about.

As the committee gathers the necessary resources, data and opinions, members will begin to narrow their questions and focus more specifically on how the athletics program affects different aspects of Kenyon, such as admissions, alumni relations and student life. From there, they plan to address the overarching question: How does the athletic program contribute to Kenyons campus culture and atmosphere?

In the short term, the committee will meet within the next two weeks to begin its initial data collection. After this, they will have a better understanding of the process for the study. Ultimately, we will be working up a set of recommendations for the president which responds to those guiding questions about expectations, communication and resources, Goodstein said. The study is estimated to take between 12 and 18 months.

Goodstein said she is excited for a study that affects such a broad aspect of the College. Its good to really share a common understanding of what athletics means in the life of a student at Kenyon, she said.

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