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College gets high rank from NCSA

MIDDLEBURY — Just like any compliment, some college rankings need to be taken with a grain of salt.
That is the attitude of Middlebury College Director of Athletics Erin Quinn, anyway, in deference to the National Collegiate Scouting Association’s (NCSA) recent ranking of Middlebury as third overall in their “comprehensive study of both academics and athletics.”
The eighth annual NCSA Collegiate Power Rankings, released Sept. 16, named Middlebury College as both third among Division III schools, and third overall. Since 2004, Middlebury has ranked consistently at No. 3, according to the NCSA.
The Power Rankings are calculated “by averaging student-athlete graduation rates, academic rankings provided by U.S. News & World Report, and the strength of athletic departments as determined by the U.S. Sports Academy Directors’ Cup ranking,” according to the NCSA website.
NCSA CEO and founder Chris Krause claims in a press release that the rankings “are an objective tool to empower student athletes to find the right fit in a college or university, not only for its athletics, but academics as well.”
Quinn cannot speak to whether or not prospective students are actually using these rankings, as it’s usually the coaches who are meeting one-on-one with potential recruits. He says that while it is always a good thing to be recognized in this way, he’s not sure that these particular rankings are all that telling.
“Other rankings are sort of a bigger deal,” Quinn said. “Like the director’s cup, for instance. People pay a little more attention when it’s not derived from a made-up formula.”
Quinn explained that rankings like the Learfield Sports Director’s Cup are based on actual results from the season and broad-based success across a number of sports, “which means a little more,” he said.
As of June 23, Middlebury College was ranked number four in the Division III final standings for the 2009-2010 Learfield Sports Director’s Cup, the award that is calculated based on each school’s performance in a predetermined number of sports.
“This helps us when we’re sort of looking at how we’re fitting in,” Quinn said.
Although this particular ranking has not caused much excitement around the Middlebury athletics department, Quinn said that Middlebury’s overall improvement in various college rankings, both academic and athletic, over the last decade have definitely had an impact on student-athlete recruiting.
“There’s no question that as Middlebury has been climbing the ranks the pool of applicants has been broadened and has opened up a new pool of really talented students,” he said, though he stressed that Middlebury has always attracted students who are great on both the athletic and academic sides of things.
The national exposure that the college has gotten in recent years, though, has opened new avenues, he said. More kids around the country are starting to hear about Middlebury.
“We’re not paying a lot of attention to this type of thing, but it is a nice reflection of what Middlebury has to offer both academically and athletically,” Quinn said. “But it’s not something that we’re promoting.”
Tamara Hilmes is at tamarah@addisonindependent.com.
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