Back in August, I penned an open letter to Boston College's next Athletics Director. One of the points I brought up was evaluating the mix of varsity sports the school should offer.
Bring back men's varsity lacrosse. Evaluate the school's mix of 31 varsity sports. Determine the optimal mix of varsity sports the school should offer and then aggressively invest in those programs.
Now that we know who the next Athletics Director is, let's take a closer look at Boston College's mix of varsity sports, using Bates career stops as a measuring stick.
Miami currently fields 18 varsity sports. On the men's side, Miami fields football, basketball, hockey, baseball, track and field, golf and swimming and diving programs. For the women, basketball, field hockey, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, synchronized skating, tennis, track and field, and volleyball. The RedHawks athletics department is a much smaller one than BC's. One of the main differences in the two department's compositions is the gender split. Miami only offers golf and ice hockey on the men's side and soccer and tennis on the women's side while BC offers those four sports to both men and women. The other difference is in the number of total offerings. Miami doesn't offer fencing, lacrosse, rowing, sailing, skiing or softball but they do offer synchronized skating.
Like Miami University, Vanderbilt's athletics department is on the small side, fielding just 16 varsity sports (six men's and 10 women's programs). The Commodores field baseball, basketball, track and field / cross-country, football, golf and swimming and diving on the men's side and basketball, bowling (!), track, golf, lacrosse, soccer and swimming and diving on the women's side. Other than offering women's bowling, there's no program at Vanderbilt that isn't also at BC.
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
The Wolverines are the closest Bates has gotten to an athletics department with as many varsity sports as Boston College. The school offers 27 varsity sports in baseball, basketball, field hockey, football, golf, gymnastics, ice hockey, lacrosse, rowing, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, track and field, volleyball, water polo and wrestling. U-M offers both men's and women's gymnastics, men's lacrosse, women's water polo and wrestling where BC doesn't. BC offers men's and women's fencing, women's ice hockey, women's lacrosse, sailing and skiing over Michigan.
Or, in chart form:
|Sport||Boston College||Miami University||Vanderbilt University||University of Michigan|
|All Track Combined||MW||MW||W||MW|
|Track and Field, X-Country||M|
|Swimming and Diving||MW||MW||MW (no diving)||MW|
One thing that does stand out in this analysis is the fact that Dr. Bates has worked at two of Division I-A's smaller athletics departments in terms of the number of varsity sports offered. I do think Bates will take a long, hard look at the mix of varsity sports offered and evaluate whether it makes sense to field so many different varsity teams.
While I don't think BC is getting a varsity women's bowling or synchronized skating team any time soon -- or men's lacrosse for that matter -- I do think the department will be scaled down a bit during Bates' tenure as Athletics Director. The question is whether BC should stand pat or morph into a department that looks similar to Miami, Vanderbilt or Michigan.