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That's how players get fired up in the Ivy, where ethical standards are exalted, academic standards stratospheric, and "forget reality" could be the credo for the entire league. If it sometimes seems that the Ivys have their noses in the air, so be it. At least they don't have to hold them. "I'm tired of apologizing for what we are," says Yale coach Tom Brennan, a not-very-proud graduate of the University of Georgia. "We're doing it the right way."
•Without athletic scholarships. Financial aid is based entirely on need. (Only a few Division I non-Ivy schools—Colgate, Lafayette, Lehigh and Bucknell are four—can make that claim.) "We have to recruit those who are poor enough to qualify for aid or rich enough not to care," says Cingiser. Adds Harvard coach Peter Roby, 28, who's still paying off the loans he took out to attend Dartmouth: "It's still not hard to convince parents of the value of an Ivy League education. But sometimes the kids put pressure on themselves. They think about the money and feel guilty."
•Without missing classes. To keep players on their campuses, almost all league games are played on Friday and Saturday nights. Before he dismisses another Hoosier player for bagging classes, Indiana coach Bob Knight might ask himself what he has done to get the Big Ten to cut down on midweek travel.
•Without special cases. Using a tool called the Academic Index, which considers high school athletes' class rank, GPA, and SAT and achievement scores, Ivy admissions officers make sure that a jock satisfies the same standards as the rest of the student body. An applicant scoring below a certain number simply won't get in. Says Roby, "If I ask a kid how he did on the boards and he says, 'Eight a game,' I know he's not coming here."
•Without enforcement. There isn't any need. As with the 1954 covenant of the Ivy group presidents, which formalized the league and its academics-first philosophy, subscription to the Academic Index is by gentleman's agreement. A coach might lose a recruit or two to a zealous league rival, but he loses more players to his school's own vigilant admissions office. Indeed, if some of the Ivys' pathfinders had had their way, score might not even be kept in games. "What's this?" former Yale president A. Whitney Griswold is said to have demanded years ago, brandishing a sports page at his athletic director. "Ivy League standings?"
Life is still refreshingly different. Just look around:
At Harvard, returning forward Arne Duncan passed up this season to write his senior thesis. At Cornell, track team members jog around the court in Barton Hall while the Big Red practices. At Columbia, center Mark Murphy missed a game for a med school interview.
At Dartmouth, star guard Bryan Randall came to practice stiff and sore, explaining he had been in an anti-apartheid protest and spent the night on the president's desk. "He's aware of things other than whether he'll be on NBC or not," says Big Green coach Paul Cormier. "As long as he's at practice, I love it."
At Yale, laments Brennan, "when our kids lose, they're adult and understanding about it, and it ticks me off. But in reality, their attitude is right and mine's wrong."