Poll: Athletics & Academics at Colgate

Overwhelming majority of student athletes managed to balance athletics and academic commitments. About one-quarter felt faculty members were biased against athletes, but respondents split on whether faculty should write regulations for extra-curricular athletic activities.

Nearly half (49%) of Colgate student athletes earned a GPA above 3.25 in Spring 2013, and Colgate’s NCAA graduation success rate was 98% in 2011-12 and 2012-13, fourth best in the country.

recent letter from 63 tenured faculty voiced concern that athletics is encroaching on academic life and demand that faculty members participate in writing new regulations for extra-curricular athletic activities.

Some have also complained that Colgate alumni are willing to fund an expansion of the school’s athletic facilities while not being as forthcoming to pay for a new performing arts center, although the Center for Arts and Culture is in the planning stages.

A response from student athletes, both current and alumni/ae, makes the case that Colgate athletes manage to balance athletics and academics.  You can add your name to the student athlete’s letter here.

A Better Colgate asked students and athletes their opinion on athletics & academics at the ‘Gate.  The poll was conducted December 17, 2013 – Feb 8 2014. Total respondents:  1,037 from a universe of 10,598 alumni or students. MOE ± 2.89


Q. 60% of respondents played either varsity or intramural sports at Colgate.

Q. In an open letter to the Colgate community, 63 tenured faculty members said that, “…we believe that the time commitment among Colgate student athletes has reached a place of excess that has resulted in an encroachment on academic life in ways that are at odds with the fundamental mission of education at Colgate.” Do you agree or disagree with the faculty’s perception that athletics is negatively encroaching on academic life?

  • 35%   I agree that athletics is at odds with a successful academic career at Colgate.
  • 65%   The perception of these faculty members seems unreasonably biased.

Q. The faculty letter claimed that “two cultures” exist at Colgate, with student-athletes “cut off from mainstream campus culture.” Are student athletes cut off from the mainstream campus culture?

  • 23 %   Yes, two cultures exist at Colgate and athletes are cut off from the mainstream campus community.
  • 77%   There are many subcultures at Colgate, but that doesn’t cut anyone out unless they choose to be separate.

Q. The signatories of the letter from faculty demand “…faculty to be part of a process in which these problems and issues are evaluated and assessed for the purpose of drawing new regulations concerning the relationship between academic life and extra-curricular athletic programs.”    Do you support a change to allow faculty to have a role in writing new regulations for athletic programs?

  • 40%  Yes, of course faculty should be involved in writing new regulations for academic life and athletic programs.
  • 40%  No, non-athletic department faculty don’t understand what it means to be an athlete at Colgate.
  • 20%  This is much ado about nothing.

Q. In an open letter by Senior Mike Yeager and co-signed by at least 88 student athletes, he observed that, “…there were times that I woke up in the morning and chose not to wear my Colgate Athletics sweatshirt because I did not want my professors to perceive me in a way that would be detrimental to my academic standing.” Did you ever feel threatened that your professor might grade you lower because of your involvement in athletics?

  • 23%   Yes, I have sometimes felt that a professor would negatively consider my involvement in athletics in my grade.
  • 77%   No, my professors didn’t make my athletic involvement an issue.

Q. Yeager also notes that Colgate’s strong athletics program serves as a recruiting tool, because “the high level of competition that Colgate student-athletes are able to participate in offers a best of both worlds scenario where a high school athlete does not have to necessarily choose whether athletics or academics are more important to him or her because Colgate offers both.” Does Colgate’s athletic program cause students to sacrifice academic excellence in the pursuit of athletic performance?

  • 23%   Yes, to some extent, my academic career suffered because of my athletic involvement.
  • 77%   No, I managed to balance both my athletic and academic commitments.

Q. Which best defines Colgate culture?

  • 95%  Work hard; play hard
  • 5%  other