On Thursday, March 31, a letter to the editor ran in the Rutland Herald in response to the recent resignation of Rich Alercio, the first head football coach at Castleton State College. The letter addressed recent public comments that had been published by the Herald, condemning the decision of the administration at Castleton. It stated that those who were included in the letter were praising the administration for “protecting our student athletes by upholding the integrity and reputation of our athletic program.”
It was signed by 40 members of the Castleton State College faculty.
“I signed the letter particularly because I agreed with the idea that there are a set of principles and standards that we adhere to here at Castleton,” said history professor Adam Chill. “And we must uphold these values and standards.above all other things.”
The letter was composed by history professor Jonathan Spiro, who hoped to quell some of the negative feedback from the Rutland community about the resignation of Alercio.
“I felt that the readers at the Rutland Herald were only getting one side to the story because the administration felt it was inappropriate for them to go public with their side of story [until the NCAA further investigated],” said Spiro. “So, I kept reading all these letters from well-meaning people, who understandably liked and supported the coach, but who were not aware of the facts.”
According to the Spiro’s letter that ran in the Herald, one writer claimed that “the transgressions of the coach should be forgiven because coaches at other colleges cheat.”
Spiro said that the actions of other colleges and their coaches should not have an effect on Castleton.
“It is unfortunately true that many schools have a win-at-any-cost mentality, but we are not ‘other schools.’ This is Castleton, where every coach is expected to know and follow the rules–which is why we have never been accused of an NCAA violation [until now].”
To acquire the signatures, Spiro wrote the letter and then forwarded a copy to all faculty and staff members, informing them that he would be sending it to the Herald, and offered them the option to include their names.
“I was immediately flooded with responses,” said Spiro
Although nobody opposed the content of the letter, two unnamed professors did question the timing of the exposure of the letter, noting that it might be best to wait until the results of the NCAA’s investigation were made public.
Spiro took this into consideration, but decided to send it after disapproval from the community kept coming.
Professor of psychology John Klein, who also signed the letter, noted that most people who signed it were probably not pro-football four years ago.
“But then.Alercio won them over. So they are probably pretty upset that something like this happened,” he said. “And it happened on coach’s watch. Mistakes were made and someone needs to pay for the mistakes and unfortunately it falls on coach’s shoulders in order to maintain the purity of the program,” he said.
Since the NCAA has yet to release any information regarding the investigation of the incident, President Dave Wolk and the administration have refrained from commenting on the topic in any detail until they hear back, which could still be a matter of weeks, according to Wolk.
“Until then I’d prefer not to comment on the issue, although I very much appreciated reading that letter from our faculty, especially since so many of them apparently signed on to it,” said Wolk.
Although Spiro noted that the letter might not influence many people’s opinions, asserting that those who agree with him will continue to agree with him and that those who don’t presumably never will, he did say writing the letter was important.
“I wrote it for the public record. So that in the future, when people read about this, they know that the faculty supported the president and athletic director on this issue,” he said.