Letters to the Editor

Statement from Michael Kuta

As Phillips Academy’s Athletic Director, I regret that decisions about Andover’s varsity boys basketball schedule have been presented in the press by representatives of other schools. I would like to take this opportunity to present the facts from Andover’s perspective. The landscape of NEPSAC boys basketball has changed a great deal over the last five years. Essentially, the coach’s association created a new classification system by changing the limits on the number of PG players per team. The primary factor which distributes teams across the classification matrix is the number of PG players. Under the new system, there are no limits at the A level and those teams are competing with as many as eight PGs. These changes forced us to review our underlying philosophy about how athletics fit into Andover’s educational program. We are committed to an athletic program which encourages growth through shared experiences, teamwork and cooperation. We feel that it is appropriate to maintain a ceiling of up to four PGs per team for these educational and pedagogical reasons. We are committed to developing home grown players who can work their way up through our system. As with all our teams, our goal is to develop a program which rewards growth and development of our student athletes through the junior varsity and varsity levels. While PGs are integral to our athletic program, they also are part of an intentionally diverse group of athletes. Recently the NEPSAC basketball coaches elected to add another distinction between A level and other levels by moving the 3-point arc further back, mirroring the college men’s game. Additionally, A level games are eight minutes longer, at 20 minutes per half as opposed to 16 minutes at the B level. These are significant changes which are inconsistent with high school basketball. Andover’s approach to basketball has not changed. We continue to embrace appropriate high school regulations which are now reflected in Level B, C and D basketball. We have never had more than four PG players on a basketball team and more often have had two or three. At the time when all our competitors followed consistent PG guidelines, Andover had some successful years and some less successful. However, that was before the compression of the classification system. Beginning in 2003 some schools on our schedule fielded teams dominated by PGs, resulting in lopsided competition. For the past two years we have amended our schedule by dropping level A teams. At the same time, several peer schools also reclassified themselves from level A to level B. Exeter chose to continue to compete under level A guidelines even though many of its traditional competitors embraced level B. Regardless, we continued to play Exeter because of our wonderful rivalry. Ultimately we found ourselves at a crossroads. To be consistent with our overall philosophy we made the difficult decision to drop Exeter from our basketball schedule. To be clear, Andover seeks to continue its long tradition of playing level A sports; currently all other teams compete at that level. Andover has not changed – NEPSAC basketball and its classification system have. Andover will do what is best for our students. We always have and we always will. Michael Kuta Athletic Director Phillips Academy