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Should Cornell Quit the Ivy League?

Amidst all of the excitement of the Michigan-Ohio State game tomorrow, and the fact that Cornell's football squad lost to Columbia (Columbia!) last weekend, the Times is running an interesting article on the demise of Ivy League football.

In truth, I've often felt that Cornell might be better off if it was in the Big 10. After all, in terms of both the number of undergraduates and demeanor of the student experience, Cornell distances itself greatly from its Ivy League peers. And all it takes is one trip to Lynah Rink to see how excited the Cornell student body can get about a team that can be competitive in a sport of national prominence. At Cornell, the students actually care about their sports, unlike at some other, nameless schools.

While some of Cornell's punditry might seek to "wrap themselves in Ivy", Cornell is really a school that defies stereotype and embodies myriad types of institutions: the eastern liberal arts colleges, the technologically-inclined research institutes, and the large state schools of the Midwest. Moreover, Cornell has actually had a long history of interaction with the Big 10. Andrew Dickson White came from the University of Michigan, and the University's last three Presidents all hailed from Big 10 schools as well.

Of course, there is wistfulness and then there is reality, and there is no denying the fact that it is hard for any top school (academically speaking) to put a competitive squad out on the field. Northwestern, Duke, and Stanford aren't exactly successful in their quest for competitive Division I-A play. The administrators also like the fact that they don't always have to cater to the needs of a football team and its alumni base. Moreover, what would an insecure Cornell alum do if she wasn't able to quip that "it's in the Ivy League" as soon as she tells somebody they she attended Cornell?

But the all-time Michigan-Cornell record still has Cornell in a healthy lead, 12-6. It makes one wish...maybe just for a fleeting moment...that big-time football was a reality at Cornell.

Matthew Nagowski | Posted on November 17, 2006 (#)

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