A Harvard University athletics policy that prohibits members of single-gender organizations from serving as sports team captains will rely on the honor system, according to retiring athletic director Robert Scalise.
As reported by The Harvard Crimson, Scalise’s comments came Friday, three years after Harvard first announced the sanctions, which bar members of single-gender final clubs, sororities and fraternities from captaining varsity athletics teams. The sanctions, which apply to the Class of 2021 and all successive classes, also prevent members of unrecognized social clubs from holding leadership positions in student organizations and receiving college endorsement for prestigious fellowships like the Rhodes.
The sanctions have drawn questions from students and other affiliates as to how the college plans to implement them. Some athletes said they are skeptical about whether the administration will be able to enforce the sanctions.
“If you really want to be a part of a single-gender organization, even if the sanctions do apply to your social class, you’re going to do it anyway,” men’s volleyball team member Adam Gordon said. “There’s really not much stopping you.”
Scalise, who will retire next June, said Friday that the athletics department will expect prospective captains to withdraw themselves from consideration if they are members of single-gender social groups. “I think it's more of an honor system, rather than creating a big bureaucracy, where you make everybody sign a form and find out who's in and who's not in,” Scalise said.
If the department later discovers that a selected captain is a member of one of the sanctioned groups, it will strip that person of their captainship. “If someone got elected captain, and then we found out that they didn't [tell the Athletics Department], well, then they kind of lied to us a little bit,” Scalise said. "You know, we would need to remove them as captain.”
Captain selection processes vary from team to team, though the athletics department provides general guidelines. Scalise said that ideally athletes decide who should captain their teams and how many captains should lead the team, with coaches removed from that process as much as possible.
Several athletes say there has been little communication from their coaching staff or the athletic administration regarding implementation of sanctions policies with regards to varsity teams captaincies. Six athletes, representing four different teams, said in interviews with The Crimson that they have not heard anything from administrators about implementation of the sanctions.