Conference Chaos Not A Big Deal

Plus: Challenges Facing Private Colleges; Field Hockey Season Preview; The 'Reservation Wage'

AUGUST 23, 2023 | written by STEVE ULRICH

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1. Conference Chaos Not a Big Deal

by Daniel Libit, Lev Akabas, Sportico

“With the latest convulsions of college conference realignment having pushed the Pac-12 to the verge of death - and stranding programs like Cal and Stanford - Americans’ response is a collective shrug.

A survey conducted this month by Sportico and The Harris Poll, in the immediate wake of Oregon’s and Washington’s decision to ditch the Pac-12 for the Big Ten in 2024, found that 55% of U.S. adults familiar with conference realignment did not feel as if it had impacted their enjoyment of college sports. Indeed, more members of that cohort (26%) said that conference realignment had actually enhanced their enjoyment, as compared to 18% who felt it had diminished it.”

» Survey Says: As part of our survey, The Harris Poll asked respondents whether conference realignment was a “problem in college sports,” to which 68% of those who follow college sports either strongly or somewhat agreed. That was less than the 71% who thought the lack of equal opportunities for female athletes constituted an ongoing problem and the 70% who expressed concern over the lack of a uniform NIL policy.”

» The Big Picture:Our survey found a sizable majority of Americans in support of further expanding college athlete economic opportunities beyond NIL, including 67% of respondents who were okay with schools directly compensating athletes.

2. Leaders of Local Private Colleges Are Determined Despite Challenges

University of Dubuque

by Elizabeth Kelsey, Telegraph Herald

University of Dubuque President Jeffrey Bullock doesn’t mince words when talking about the struggles he foresees for the future of higher education.

Various challenges, including declining enrollment, the end of COVID-19-related aid and what he sees as poor financial planning at many institutions across the country contribute to his belief that in the next few years, “a lot of” colleges and universities will be forced to close.

“I have been saying since COVID that 2023 is the beginning of the higher ed apocalypse,” he said. “ ... I’m very confident about where we are (as an institution) and where we will be, but I would be lying to you if I said that it’s an easy time to be in independent higher education.”

» Why It Matters: “Leaders of area private colleges expect severe headwinds from a looming “demographic cliff” of fewer college-age students, changing attitudes toward higher education, funding shortfalls and other ongoing concerns exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

» Reality Check: “This economy is not conducive for families to sit there and say, ‘Do I want to go into debt for you to go to college?’ when there are a lot of jobs around right now, and they pay pretty well,” said Gary Steinke, president of Iowa Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.

» Worth Noting: “Institutions have to be extremely well-managed, ... and that means they literally have to make decisions about how many times you mow the lawn, how much landscaping really has to be done,” Steinke said.

3. Middlebury Looks For Sixth Straight Field Hockey Title

Middlebury celebrates another field hockey title

The 2022 Division III field hockey season came down to extra time before Middlebury dispatched Johns Hopkins, 1-0, in overtime to claim the national title. Could 2023 bring about similar thrills?

Here is a look at teams and players to watch as the season opens on Friday, September 1.

Teams to Watch


Christopher Newport

Johns Hopkins








Trinity (Conn.)


Washington and Lee

William Smith


York (Pa.)

Players to Watch

  • Rayhanah Ahmed, TCNJ, Jr., F

  • Abby Asuncion, Christopher Newport, Grad, M

  • Brooke Billhimer, Christopher Newport, Jr., D

  • Paige Cote, Bates, Sr., F

  • Paige Forester, MIT, Grad, F

  • Caroline Gallagher, Cabrini, Sr., F

  • Katie George, Middlebury, Sr., F

  • Sydney Gonyea, Simmons, So., F

  • Amy Griffin, Middlebury, Jr., M

  • Emily Harris, Castleton, Sr., F

  • McKenna Horner, Salisbury, So., F

  • Kara Houston, Rochester, So., GK

  • Charlotte Marks, Middlebury, Sr., D

  • Muffie Mazambani, Amherst, Sr., F

  • Meg McCarthy, Ohio Wesleyan, Jr, GK

  • Brianne McGrath, Babson, Grad, M

  • Mairead McKibbin, Shenandoah, Jr., F

  • Olivia McMichael, Trinity CT, Sr., GK

  • Hazel Miller, Bryn Mawr, Jr., F

  • Julia Patrone, Rowan, Jr., F

  • Katie Redding, Scranton, Sr., F

  • Carolina Riley, Franklin & Marshall, Sr., M/D

  • Berit Sharrow, Babson, Jr., D

» Streaking: Middlebury has won five consecutive NCAA Division III titles and six of the last seven dating to 2015. Salisbury is the only other DIII program to win as many as three in a row (2003-04-05).

» Nattys: TCNJ has won a DIII record 11 national titles with Middlebury second with seven. Salisbury (5), Bowdoin (4), Cortland (3) and William Smith (3) round out the list of multiple winners.

» Consecutive Tourney Appearances: Salisbury (28), Messiah (21), Middlebury (19), Johns Hopkins (4), Rowan (4), Tufts (4)

4. Lightning Round

📰 News. “A pair of Catholic institutions in Minnesota - the College of St. Benedict, a women’s college, and St. John’s University, a men’s college - instituted a new admissions policy over the summer that will allow students who identify as nonbinary to attend either college, regardless of the gender they were assigned at birth.”

🏃🏻‍♀️ Cross Country. The USTFCCCA released its preseason regional cross country rankings - Men | Women

5. Comings and Goings

6. How Much Would It Take For You To Take A New Job?

by Jeff Cox, CNBC

“The amount of money most workers want now to accept a job reached a record high this year, a sign that inflation is alive and well at least in the labor market.

According to the latest New York Federal Reserve employment survey released Monday, the average “reservation wage,” or the minimum acceptable salary offer to switch jobs, rose to $78,645 during the second quarter of 2023.”

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