Dropping of field hockey enters stage two

By Todd McMahon

After a one week wait, stage II commences today for NIU’s field hockey team.

Athletic Director Gerald 0’Dell is prepared to meet with the Executive Committee of NIU’s Athletic Board this afternoon to recommend that field hockey be dropped as an intercollegiate sport at NIU.

The meeting is a formality to next Wednesday’s meeting where O’Dell will present the recommendation to the 17 voting members of the Athletic Board at its monthly congregation.

Last Wednesday, O’Dell announced to all NIU coaches at their morning meeting that he was going to submit a recommendation that the program be dropped.

O’Dell also said he would be prepared to recommend a replacement sport for field hockey at both meetings he has with members of the Athletic Board.

The unhappy group of field hockey players plan to be on hand at next week’s meeting to see what unfolds.

“We plan on being there to see what happens,” one member of the field hockey team said. “We hope something can be done. We’re starting to take action, and people are getting involved to help us.

“What confuses us in this entire situation is how Gerald stressed how important academics was. He told us, when we came in as freshmen, that academics is our top priority here.”

The argument is valid considering the fact O’Dell created the Academic Excellence Program upon his arrival just under five years ago.

The program, which each year recognizes student-athletes who achieve in the classroom, has been dominated by members from coach Laurie Bell’s team.

The last three years, the field hockey team has had the highest grade point average among all athletic teams at NIU.

After the 1990-91 academic year, 10 players had a cumulative overall grade point average of at least 3.00. All 10 met the requirements of O’Dell’s program. Two of the players were “victory scholars” with GPAs of at least 3.50.

Only football had more players (11) recognized in the program. However, with only 15 players on its roster in 1990, the success rate of the field hockey team placing players in the academic program was 67 percent.

With the demise of the field hockey program appearing to be close at hand, Bell has now been forced to look out for the needs of her “scholar” players.

In the last few days, she has been holding individual conferences with her players and trying to make contacts with other schools to see if they need any players for next year.

However, because the announcement to drop the program came at such a late stage, it has been difficult for Bell to find any takers for her players.