The Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference’s (MIAC) national reputation as the toughest NCAA Division III conference in the country is well deserved. Seemingly only a couple of the 13 member schools are annual frontrunners.
Is the MIAC that top heavy?
“Yes, it’s top heavy right now, particularly in football,” admits Carleton College Athletic Director Gerald Young. “St. Thomas, St. John’s, Bethel and Concordia [Moorhead] — they’re the four teams to beat right now.”
Young’s school is in Northfield, Minnesota — all 13 MIAC schools are located within the state’s borders, with most of them right here in the Twin Cities area. “We won the cross country championship here for the women five out of the last six years and finished in the top 20 in the nation three of those years,” states Young.
“We’ve won the women tennis championships four out of the last six years.” Also, the Carleton women’s track team finished second in the MIAC.
“It’s not [just] Carleton, but other [MIAC] schools have done very well. It’s a very balanced league. There’s more balance in the league than people think,” says Young.
In charge of the school’s athletic department since 2010, Young can easily attest that running a full slate of Division III athletic programs is a job not unlike that in other colleges and universities. “It has many challenges, but it’s very rewarding,” he points out.
A proposal to allow Division III athletes who graduate in three years to transfer to another school and finish their four-year athletic eligibility, as in Division I, was defeated earlier this year.
If it had passed, this would have given MIAC schools such as St. Thomas a recruiting advantage over schools like Carleton that don’t have graduate programs.
“More level heads prevailed,” says Young.
Nonetheless, recruiting and finances in general remain challenges on a regular basis. Division III schools do not offer scholarships as do those in Division I and II, so athletes must qualify for aid if needed. Tuition at Carleton, a private school, is $50,580 a year, plus $13,197 for room and board. Ninety percent of the school’s population of around 2,000 live on campus.
“Now, that’s a challenge,” says Young, adding that many students get an average of around $40,000 in “need-met” financial assistance, leaving a $20,000-$30,000 shortfall that must be made up.
Young came to Carleton in 1992 and was an assistant football coach for 17 years, an assistant softball coach for 10 seasons, and an associate AD before he was named to his current position. He also coached football as an assistant at St. Cloud State, Western Oregon State, and MacMurray (Ill.) College, as well as student athlete services coordinator at Oregon State, a Division I school.
“The reason why I left Division I is because at that level it really isn’t focused in so much on the student-athlete as it is on how much money you are bringing in,” recalls Young. “I want to be at a place where you are focusing on student athletes.”
Young is the state’s only Black athletic director at the collegiate level. “I haven’t really thought about it,” he says as a proud member of “the 20 strong” — the first NCAA Leadership Institute for Ethnic Minority Males class in 2001-02. “A lot of us have gone on to be athletic directors in many ways,” he reports.
He also chairs Carleton’s physical education, athletics and recreation office. “At this level, we do it all,” he says proudly.
But he doesn’t like the “only one” label: “I am very much aware of my role as far as Black administrators. I think we need more administrators of color.”
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to email@example.com.
Updated 6/29/2016 7 pm to correct tuition information.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.