America's Best Sports Colleges (Oct. 7) is interesting and insightful. However, I disagree with your basis for giving the nod to Texas over Stanford. To me it is obvious that the first criterion should be the number of NCAA titles, and Stanford had three times the number of individual titles (18-6) and double the number of team titles (4-2) in the 2001-2 school year. The Cardinal has more varsity teams than the Longhorns (34-19), even though Texas has five times the number of students. Also, Stanford offers one intramural or club sport for every 265 students compared with one for every 429 students at Texas. I believe that any school with fewer than 7,000 students that can be successful in Division I college athletics and still maintain its high academic standards is by far the best sports college in the land.
TIM MARSHALL, Richmond, Mo.
SI's choice of a school that is 170th in athlete graduation rate as America's best sports college coupled with the news, announced that same week, that Florida State canceled classes for two days because of fears of a possible campus traffic jam caused by an evening football game (SCORECARD, Oct. 14) illustrates everything that is wrong with major college sports in America today.
MATT CRAVETS, Simi Valley, Calif.
If a university gets points for winning games in football and men's basketball, shouldn't it also lose some points for having ridiculously low graduation rates for athletes in those sports, for having players indicted for felonies and for having to dismiss coaches for recruiting violations and outlandish academic improprieties? Including those stats would have made for a very different top 10.
JACK SELZER, State College, Pa.
By graduating only 56% of its student-athletes, Texas exemplifies what is wrong with college sports. How can a school whose average freshman scored about 590 on the verbal portion of the SAT and about 600 on the math section fail to graduate more athletes? Obviously Texas' athletic department admits the athletes on a separate set of criteria from the admissions office. As a college admissions counselor and Stanford graduate, I have no problem with giving students a chance, but I do object strenuously to colleges that exploit athletes' talents on the playing field only to neglect the schools' true responsibility: to educate its students.
JENYTH GEARHART UTCHEN
San Ramon, Calif.
In my dream world having high academic standards is one of the purposes of college athletics. Not emphasizing the value of graduation rates weakens any scale that attempts to rank colleges. It's sad when winning championships becomes the only statistic valued by our society.
PETER J. TITLEBAUM, Dayton
The College of Charleston—having produced dozens of sailing All-Americas, three College Sailors of the Year since 1988 and a coed varsity sailing team that has finished no lower than fifth in the Intercollegiate Sailing Association rankings since '91, including the '98 national champions—should have garnered a spot in the top 200 schools.
CHARLES EARL, Charleston, S.C.
Reilly's Ryder Report
Rick Reilly (THE LIFE OF REILLY, Oct. 7) joined the Curtis Strange bashing brigade without considering the following. If second-ranked Phil Mickelson had defeated 119th-ranked Philip Price in the eighth match, and everything else had remained the same, a Tiger Woods victory over Jesper Parnevik in the last match would have retained the Ryder Cup for the United States.
ALAN LUBELL, New York City
Sergio Garc�a provides fans with something that has been missing from the PGA since Chi-Chi Rodriguez—a little personality. What next, Rick? Fine Jesper Parnevik a top 10 finish for every clothes item that isn't an earth tone? The world's No. 1 player may approach Sunday like a day at the office, but Garc�a treats it like a Friday afternoon off.
CORY ENNS, Thunder Bay, Ont.
Reilly's comments about the Ryder Cup almost make me embarrassed to have rooted for the U.S. team. He shows the arrogance and poor sportsmanship that are sadly becoming the hallmark of U.S. sports. Rather than sniping about Garc�a's behavior, which appeared to be honest excitement, he should be questioning why the U.S. team seemed to have no emotion at all. Rather than complaining about the European team's celebration on the 18th green, he should point out that the match had already been decided, which it hadn't been during the U.S. team's celebration in 1999. And finally, rather than looking for a scapegoat in Strange, he should congratulate the European team for ultimately playing better golf. Good sportsmanship is sadly lacking in athletes these days. It appears to be rare in sportswriters too.
JAMES SHELP, Apalachin, N.Y.
I find Garc�a as annoying as the next golf fan does, but Reilly sounds like a bitter poor sport who just lost the school's kick-ball game and needs to resort to name-calling to make himself feel better. Sorry, Rick, take the loss with dignity. Sometimes, if you can believe it, even Americans lose.
DOR PANCHYSON, Waterloo, Ont.