Demakis v Sawyer, Round 1

An editorial written by Tom Demakis in the Williams Record in January of our senior year about the antiquated and inadequate athletic facilities existing at the College, the second tier academic status of the coaching staff, restrictive rules, and decline of the Williams Athletic Council as a sounding-board for students set in motion a series of events that propelled him to the position of first president of our class after graduation.

As sports editor of the paper, Pancho was truly dedicated to the program and wrote a hard-hitting editorial on the subject. His editorial ended with the observation that “a change in policy will probably come only with a change in administration.”

In February of 1968, President Sawyer responded in a Williams Record interview, where he defended the existing program but acknowledged the inferior state of the facilities. Sawyer indicated that limited financing was the source of this and other problems at the College, and that innovations like additions to the faculty, transition to the residential system, the 4-1-4 curriculum changes, and the building of the Bronfman Science Center had taken precedence recently. He noted that Williams’ endowment at the time was half that of Amherst’s, and one third that of Wesleyan’s.

At the same time President Sawyer offered assurances that major athletic improvements had received committee study and were included in the next phase of fundraising.

His interview remarks, however, did not seem to address Pancho’s concerns about the status of the coaching staff and the operation of the program generally. We noticed that, and we noticed Pancho’s courage. So we elected him Class President. In that position, he continued to represent us working directly with the President and the College for the first five years after our graduation in 1968. Sawyer remained in office until his retirement from the position in 1973.

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