Can college sailing survive its latest scandal?

A tempest of dread descended on the world of college sailing Wednesday as former Stanford University sailing coach John Vandemoer was sentenced to six months of home detention and two years of supervised release for his role in a college pay to sail scandal.

The former coach avoided prison time despite the efforts of federal prosecutors who requested he be given a “meaningful” stint in the brig intended to help repair public confidence in college sailing.

“What message are we sending to our kids if we simply give this man a slap on the wrist?  When my daughter tunes in to watch the Women’s Dinghy or the Team Racing, she needs to have confidence that these events are honestly contested,” argued C. Preston Wainscott in documents filed prior to the hearing.

News of the sentencing was all anyone could talk about Wednesday at the Yale Corinthian Yacht Club.  Many thought the disgraced coach should take a long walk on a short plank. Most agreed that no one deserves preferential treatment.  

“Success in sailing should be based on merit, hard work, the sweat of one’s brow,” remarked Thurston Howell III.  “Why, I spent my first year as a young sailor boy scrubbing the poop deck every night. No one should get special treatment just because they came out of say the Royal Thames as opposed to the Yale Corinthian Yacht Club.”

Although the NCAA has yet to rule, many believe Stanford’s sailing program will face stiff sanctions for years to come.  Already next year’s class of Stanford recruits are reconsidering their commitment based on the recent news. One of the most sought after recruits in college sailing history, Reginald Williams of Detroit Yacht Club, withdrew his commitment to Stanford and signed with an agent.  He’s now exploring his options in the professional ranks.

“As a result of this scandal, I think we’re going to see a lot more of these young fellows going for the big money,” added Howell.  “With the lure of signing bonuses, sponsorships and a yar gaff cutter to helm, why would a promising young sailor spend four years making money for the university when they can enrich themselves?”

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